Articles | Volume 19, issue 14
Biogeosciences, 19, 3381–3393, 2022
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-19-3381-2022
Biogeosciences, 19, 3381–3393, 2022
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-19-3381-2022
BG Letters
 | Highlight paper
20 Jul 2022
BG Letters  | Highlight paper | 20 Jul 2022

Soil carbon loss in warmed subarctic grasslands is rapid and restricted to topsoil

Niel Verbrigghe et al.

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Interactive discussion

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2021-338', Emma Sayer, 01 Feb 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Niel Verbrigghe, 23 Mar 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2021-338', Anonymous Referee #2, 02 Feb 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Niel Verbrigghe, 23 Mar 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on bg-2021-338', Anonymous Referee #3, 02 Mar 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Niel Verbrigghe, 23 Mar 2022

Peer review completion

AR: Author's response | RR: Referee report | ED: Editor decision
ED: Reconsider after major revisions (28 Mar 2022) by Sébastien Fontaine
ED: Reconsider after major revisions (31 Mar 2022) by Sébastien Fontaine
ED: Reconsider after major revisions (31 Mar 2022) by Steven Bouillon(Co-Editor-in-Chief)
AR by Niel Verbrigghe on behalf of the Authors (04 May 2022)  Author's response    Author's tracked changes    Manuscript
ED: Referee Nomination & Report Request started (11 May 2022) by Sébastien Fontaine
RR by Anonymous Referee #2 (23 May 2022)
ED: Publish subject to minor revisions (review by editor) (23 May 2022) by Sébastien Fontaine
ED: Publish subject to minor revisions (review by editor) (31 May 2022) by Steven Bouillon(Co-Editor-in-Chief)
AR by Niel Verbrigghe on behalf of the Authors (14 Jun 2022)  Author's response    Author's tracked changes    Manuscript
ED: Publish as is (14 Jun 2022) by Sébastien Fontaine
ED: Publish as is (16 Jun 2022) by Steven Bouillon(Co-Editor-in-Chief)
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Co-editor-in-chief
The authors adopted a new and attractive approach, based on the use of thermal springs appearing at different times, to study the short-term and long-term (> 50 years) effect of warming on the soil C stock under subarctic grasslands. This new approach allows to take a new look at the question of a positive feedback between temperature and soils that can amplify global warming. Indeed, most studies on this subject are based on warming experiments conducted over the short term (some years) or on questionable correlative approaches where the temperature co-varies with many other factors (e.g., study of soil C stocks along latitudinal temperature gradients). Their study challenges the current dominant view on the effect of warming on the dynamics of SOM. Indeed, results suggest that soil C losses in the subarctic grasslands studied cease after 5 years of warming. These observations corroborate those obtained in the rare ecosystem warming experiments maintained beyond 10 years. In addition, results suggest that the C stocks present in the deep soil horizons, where plant roots are not or hardly present, are not affected by warming. These unexpected discoveries, together with other recent observations, show the glaring lack of knowledge on the fundamental mechanisms of the effect of temperature on catalytic processes, which seriously compromises our ability to predict the soil-climate feedback.
Short summary
In subarctic grassland on a geothermal warming gradient, we found large reductions in topsoil carbon stocks, with carbon stocks linearly declining with warming intensity. Most importantly, however, we observed that soil carbon stocks stabilised within 5 years of warming and remained unaffected by warming thereafter, even after > 50 years of warming. Moreover, in contrast to the large topsoil carbon losses, subsoil carbon stocks remained unaffected after > 50 years of soil warming.
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