Date of Award

12-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Forestry and Environmental Conservation

Committee Member

Dr. Elena A. Mikhailova, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Christopher J. Post

Committee Member

Dr. Mark A. Schlautman

Abstract

Soil inorganic carbon (SIC) is currently not included in the list of key soil properties related to ecosystem services (e.g., provisioning, regulating, cultural, and supporting services). Soil inorganic carbon is a dynamic key soil property used in soil classification, taxonomy and fertility, therefore its inclusion in the framework of ecosystem services is important. With soils rapidly changing due to human use and climate change, the soil ecosystem services framework should not include only soil organic carbon (SOC), but SIC as well since it is of global importance to soil fertility and the long-term carbon cycle, especially in semiarid and arid climates where SIC comprises the largest carbon pool. The objective of this study is to assess the value of SIC in the 12 soil orders of Soil Taxonomy within the continental United States (U.S.) and at the farm scale (the Cornell University Research Farm) within the context of ecosystem services, specifically provisional and supporting services. At the country scale, the total value of SIC storage is $5.17E+12 (upper 2-m soil depth). The soil orders having the highest total value of SIC storage (based on $10.42 price per U.S. ton of CaCO3 lime in the U.S. (2014)) are: 1) Mollisols ($2.22E+12), 2) Aridisols ($1.23E+12), 3) Alfisols ($5.23E+11), and 4) Entisols ($4.89E+11). In terms of SIC content results (per square meter), the soil orders are ranked: 1) Vertisols ($2.22 m-2), 2) Aridisols ($1.52 m-2), 3) Mollisols ($1.10 m-2), and 4) Inceptisols ($0.49 m-2). At the farm scale (variable soil depth), the soil orders having the highest total value of SIC (based on $10.88 price per U.S. ton of CaCO3 for the state of New York (NY) in 2014) are: 1) Alfisols, 2) Inceptisols, and 3) Entisols; however, the estimates were highly variable between SSURGO and field-derived data. The results of this study provide an estimated value of soil inorganic carbon, which may be useful in assessing ecosystem services provided by the SIC. The potential impacts on society from this research include adding SIC into the ecosystem services framework for the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. Future research should identify and quantify other important ecosystem services that SIC may provide on a variety of spatial and time scales, as well as the potential need of including total carbon (TC) and interactions between SIC and SOC pools.

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