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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Professor Fred Worrall

Bell, M.J. & Worrall, F. (2009). Estimating a region's soil organic carbon baseline: The undervalued role of land-management. Geoderma 152(1-2): 74-84.

Author(s) from Durham


In light of recent concern over the extent of global warming and the role of soil carbon as a potential store of atmospheric carbon, there is increasing pressure and demand for regions to estimate their current soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks with the greatest possible accuracy. This study began by approaching the task in a similar way to previous studies where attempts at calculating SOC baselines at global, national or regional scale have used mean values for soil orders and multiplied these values by the mapped areas of the soils they represent. It also followed other methods that have approached the task from a land-cover point of view, making estimates using only land-use, or soil order/land-use combinations and others that have included variables such as altitude, climate and soil texture. The research assessed forms of stratification which could improve these baseline estimates by determining the major controls on SOC concentrations (%SOC) at the National Trust Wallington estate in Northumberland, NE England (area = 55 km2) where an extensive soil sampling campaign was used to test what level of accuracy could be achieved in modelling the %SOC values on the Estate using a range of existing national and local data. Mapped %SOC values were compared to the values predicted from The National Soils Resources Institute (NSRI) representative soil profile data for major soil group, soil series and land-use corrected soil series values, as well as land-use/major soil group combinations from the Countryside Survey database.