Articles | Volume 11, issue 16
Biogeosciences, 11, 4429–4442, 2014
Biogeosciences, 11, 4429–4442, 2014

Research article 22 Aug 2014

Research article | 22 Aug 2014

Assessment on the rates and potentials of soil organic carbon sequestration in agricultural lands in Japan using a process-based model and spatially explicit land-use change inventories – Part 1: Historical trend and validation based on nation-wide soil monitoring

Y. Yagasaki1,* and Y. Shirato1 Y. Yagasaki and Y. Shirato
  • 1Natural Resources Inventory Center, National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences, 3-1-3 Kannondai, Tsukuba, 305-8604, Japan
  • *now at: Terrestrial Ecosystems Management, Hall of Global Environmental Research, Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8501, Japan

Abstract. In order to estimate a country-scale soil organic carbon (SOC) stock change in agricultural lands in Japan, while taking into account the effect of land-use changes, climate, different agricultural activities and the nature of soils, a spatially explicit model simulation system was developed using Rothamsted Carbon Model (RothC) with an integration of spatial and temporal inventories. Simulation was run from 1970 to 2008 with historical inventories. Simulated SOC stock was compared with observations in a nation-wide stationary monitoring program conducted during 1979–1998.

Historical land-use change, characterized by a large decline in the area of paddy fields as well as a small but continuous decline in the area of orchards, occurred along with a relatively large increase in upland crop fields, unmanaged grasslands, and settlements (i.e. conversion of agricultural fields due to urbanization or abandoning). Results of the simulation on SOC stock change under varying land-use change indicated that land-use conversion from agricultural fields to settlements or other lands, as well as that from paddy fields to croplands have likely been an increasing source of CO2 emission, due to the reduction of organic carbon input to soils and the enhancement of SOC decomposition through transition of soil environment from anaerobic to aerobic conditions.

The area-weighted mean concentrations of the simulated SOC stocks calculated for major soil groups under paddy fields and upland crop fields were comparable to those observed in the monitoring. Whereas in orchards, the simulated SOC stocks were underestimated. As the results of simulation indicated that SOC stock change under managed grasslands and settlements has been likely a major sink and source of CO2 emission at country-scale, respectively, validation of SOC stock change under these land-use types, which could not have been accomplished due to limited availability or a lack of measurement, remains a forthcoming challenge.

Final-revised paper