Global Data - Other initiatives

Global Soil Organic Carbon Estimates

Global estimates of soil organic carbon stocks have been produced in the past to support the calculation of potential emissions of CO2 from the soil under scenarios of change land use/cover and climatic conditions (IPCC, 2006), but very few global estimates are presented as spatial data. For global spatial layers on soil parameters, the most recent and complete dataset is available as the Harmonized World Soil Database (HWSD). The HWSD represents a step forward towards a spatially more detailed and thematically more refined set of global soil data.

You will find the organic carbon density (t ha-1) for the topsoil (0 – 30cm) and the subsoil layer (30 – 100cm) from the amended HWSD. The Global Soil Organic Carbon estimates are available in 2 different grid resolutions (ZIP compression):

  • Raster layer with resolution of 30 arc second (which corresponds to a grid size of approx. 1km x 1km at the Equator
  • Raster layer with resolution of 5 arc minute (which corresponds to a grid size of approx. 9km x 9km at the Equator)

The data are in Idrisi format. They are freely available upon request: Fill this online form ; after which you will be provided with instructions on how to download the data.

Download the Report Global Soil Organic Carbon Estimates and the Harmonized World Soil Database R. Hiederer, M. Köchy 2012 – 79 pp. – EUR 25225 EN – EUR Scientific and Technical Research series – ISSN 1831-9424 (online), ISSN 1018-5593 (print), ISBN 978-92-79-23108-7, doi:10.2788/13267

UNEP-WCMC updated Global Carbon Map

The updated global carbon map improves upon the rather coarse data on soil carbon (IGBP-DIS 2000) that were used in UNEP-WCMC’s Carbon and biodiversity: a demonstration atlas (Kapos et al. 2008). A global map of estimated soil carbon stocks to 1m depth was generated based on the soil organic carbon and bulk density values included in the HWSD (FAO/IIASA/ISRIC/ISS-CAS/JRC 2009). The data in the HWSD were adjusted and missing data filled in where possible. It therefore provides a better tool for visualising the distribution of carbon stocks, which are dominated by soil stocks in some parts of the world such as boreal peatlands and tropical swamps.

OC Global

Download the Poster: Updated global carbon map

Bibliographical Reference:
Scharlemann, J.P.W., R. Hiederer, V. Kapos and C. Ravilious (2011) UNEP WCMC Updated Global Carbon Map. United Nations Environment Programme - World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Scharlemann, J.P.W., Hiederer, R., Tanner??, E., Kapos, V. (2014) Global soil carbon: understanding and managing the largest terrestrial carbon pool. Carbon Management, February 2014, Vol. 5, No. 1, Pages 81-91 , DOI 10.4155/cmt.13.77.


Soil Carbon in Sensitive European Ecosystems: From Science to Land Management.

Soil Carbon in Sensitive European Ecosystems is a comprehensive overview of the latest research in this field drawn together by a network of scientists, currently working for the European research programme, COST Action 639 BurnOut (; 2006-2010). COST Action 639 emerged from a demand from policy makers in Europe for more detailed information on soil carbon dynamics. The cooperation between experts for reporting and experts for soil dynamics is the focus of the book. This book seeks to provide an up-to-date account on the state-of-the-art research within this topical field. This book focuses primarily on ecosystems and their soil carbon stocks. The book identifies three key sensitive ecosystems within Europe: Mediterranean Forest and Agricultural Systems; Mountains; and Peatland.

Bibliographical Reference:
Jandl, Robert, Mirco Rodeghiero and Mats Olsson, Mats (Eds.) 2011. Soil Carbon in Sensitive European Ecosystems: From Science to Land Management. John Wiley & Sons, 296pp.