Soil samples from 47 NEON field sites in addition to a global soil data set from North America, Indonesia, Europe, Central America and South America have been used in a new study published in Nature Climate Change, authored by Dr. Marc G. Kramer and Dr. Oliver A. Chadwick, which examined the role of reactive minerals in supporting carbon sequestration in soil. The results suggest that reactive minerals in deep soils play a much bigger role in global carbon sequestration than has previously been realized.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the NEON program, the first-ever continental-scale ecological observatory and biorepository, managed by Battelle, with the intent of generating ecological data for researchers across a wide variety of study areas. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, USA, since its founding in 1929, Battelle serves the national security, health, life sciences, energy and environmental industries. Battelle conducts research and development (R&D), designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for government and commercial customers at major technology centers and national laboratories around the world.
The new study quantified how carbon bound with reactive minerals changes across different climate zones. The researchers wanted to shed light on the role climate plays in reactive minerals storage in soils in ecosystems around the world. Soil samples from the NEON project were used because they span climate zones across all of North America, including deserts, grassland, dry forest, wet forest and tundra areas.
NEON collects physical soil samples from each of the terrestrial field sites for biogeochemical, physical and organismal analysis. Archival samples are available to outside researchers who need physical samples to conduct their own analysis.
“This is one of the most important pathways for long-term carbon retention, but it hasn’t been extensively studied at the global scale in relation to climate.” … “We wanted to look at a global scale to get a better understanding of the links between rainfall, reactive mineral carbon storage, and how shifts in climate patterns may change this pathway in the future.” – Marc G. Kramer, Associate Professor, School of the Environment, Washington State University
“As NEON nears completion of the construction phase and moves into full operation, more and more data will become available for use by researchers across a wide range of disciplines fulfilling the goals of this important, unprecedented initiative by the NSF in partnership with Battelle.” – Gene Kelly, Chief Scientist and NEON Observatory Director