The Effect of Changing Land Use on Soil Radiocarbon

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Science  29 Oct 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5134, pp. 725-726
DOI: 10.1126/science.262.5134.725


Most carbon budgets require greening of the terrestrial biosphere as a sink for some of the excess carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuel burning and deforestation. Much of this storage is thought to occur in soils, but running counter to this conclusion is the observation that cultivation has reduced the agricultural reservoir of soil humus. Radiocarbon measurements in agricultural soils lend support to this browning of agricultural lands. Moreover, the loss is from the fast cycling portion of the humus.