Soil Organic Carbon Content

Soil organic carbon, the major component of soil organic matter, is extremely important in all soil processes. Organic material in the soil is essentially derived from residual plant and animal material, synthesised by microbes and decomposed under the influence of temperature, moisture and ambient soil conditions. The annual rate of loss of organic matter can vary greatly, depending on cultivation practices, the type of plant/crop cover, drainage status of the soil and weather conditions. There are two groups of factors that influence inherent organic matter content: natural factors (climate, soil parent material, land cover and/or vegetation and topography), and human-induced factors (land use, management and degradation).

Soil organic carbon (SOC) is the largest carbon (C) stock in most terrestrial ecosystems (Lal, 2008a), containing  approximately 2344 Gt of organic C globally (Stockmann et al., 2013). Moreover, soil is recognized as the second largest C pool after the oceans and one of the most important components of the biosphere, delivering major ecosystem services and functions (Ogle & Paustian, 2005). Policy frameworks influencing land use and land use changes could trigger dramatic changes in SOC levels. At a global scale, guidelines to quantify changes in greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural soils, land-use changes and forestry categories have been adopted in the ‘Land Use, Land- Use Change and Forestry’ (LULUCF) activities, listed in articles 3.3 and 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol (UN, 1997). Following LULUCF Decision 529/2013 accounting for cropland and grazing land management has become mandatory for EU Member States.

European Soil Data Centre makes available the data and information on soil organic carbon both at European scale and Global scale.

Contact point: Roland Hiederer,  Tel: +39 0332 785229, Fax: +39-0332-786394, E-Mail: roland.hiederer@jrc.ec.europa.eu

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Title: Soil GHG fluxes using LUCAS soil-DayCent
Resource Type: Datasets, Soil Functions Data
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Year: 2018
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Title: N2O emissions from agricultural soils in Europe
Resource Type: Datasets, Soil Projects Data
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Author: Emanuele Lugato
Year: 2017
Publisher: European Commission - DG JRC
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Title: Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) Projections for Europe
Resource Type: Datasets
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Author: Yusuf Yigini and Panos Panagos, European Commission
Year: 2016
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Title: Topsoil Soil Organic Carbon (LUCAS) for EU25
Resource Type: Datasets, Soil Threats Data
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Year: 2015
Publisher: European Commission Joint Research Centre
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Title: Pan-European SOC stock of agricultural soils
Resource Type: Datasets, Soil Threats Data
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Year: 2013
Publisher: European Commission Joint Research Centre
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Title: Global Soil Organic Carbon Estimates
Resource Type: Datasets, Soil Threats Data
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Author: R. Hiederer, M. Köchy
Year: 2012
Publisher: Joint Research Centre of the European Commission
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Title: OCTOP: Topsoil Organic Carbon Content for Europe
Resource Type: Datasets, Soil Threats Data
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Author: Jones, R.J.A., Hiederer, R., Rusco, E., Loveland, P.J. and Montanarella, L.
Year: 2004
Language: en
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