Ecosystem carbon budgeting and soil carbon sequestration in reclaimed mine soil

Raj K. Shrestha, Rattan Lal
2006 Environment International  
Global warming risks from emissions of green house gases (GHGs) by anthropogenic activities, and possible mitigation strategies of terrestrial carbon (C) sequestration have increased the need for the identification of ecosystems with high C sink capacity. Depleted soil organic C (SOC) pools of reclaimed mine soil (RMS) ecosystems can be restored through conversion to an appropriate land use and adoption of recommended management practices (RMPs). The objectives of this paper are to (1)
more » ... are to (1) synthesize available information on carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions from coal mining and combustion activities, (2) understand mechanisms of SOC sequestration and its protection, (3) identify factors affecting C sequestration potential in RMSs, (4) review available methods for the estimation of ecosystem C budget (ECB), and (5) identify knowledge gaps to enhance C sink capacity of RMS ecosystems and prioritize research issues. The drastic perturbations of soil by mining activities can accentuate CO 2 emission through mineralization, erosion, leaching, changes in soil moisture and temperature regimes, and reduction in biomass returned to the soil. The reclamation of drastically disturbed soils leads to improvement in soil quality and development of soil pedogenic processes accruing the benefit of SOC sequestration and additional income from trading SOC credits. The SOC sequestration potential in RMS depends on amount of biomass production and return to soil, and mechanisms of C protection. The rate of SOC sequestration ranges from 0.1 to 3.1 Mg ha − 1 yr − 1 and 0.7 to 4 Mg ha − 1 yr − 1 in grass and forest RMS ecosystem, respectively. Proper land restoration alone could off-set 16 Tg CO 2 in the U.S. annually. However, the factors affecting C sequestration and protection in RMS leading to increase in microbial activity, nutrient availability, soil aggregation, C build up, and soil profile development must be better understood in order to formulate guidelines for development of an holistic approach to sustainable management of these ecosystems. The ECBs of RMS ecosystems are not well understood. An ecosystem method of evaluating ECB of RMS ecosystems is proposed.
doi:10.1016/j.envint.2006.05.001 pmid:16797072 fatcat:6otybtu6a5dyrbcxjd5z5q2zca