TOPIC 3: Soil and climate

TOPIC 3: Soil and climate

In this topic you get more information about the importance of soil concerning the impact on the climate. We will talk about the question, what the global ecological carbon cycle is and why organic material is so important for the binding and storage of CO2 in soils.

Soils have a decisive impact on the climate. Together with the atmosphere and the oceans, they form the global ecological carbon cycle. Dead plant material is the most important source of soil carbon. The organic material in the soil is able to bind and store CO2. It is therefore not surprising that fertile, humus-rich soils store more carbon than nutrient-poor soils. Soil and climate have a reciprocal influence on each other. Changes in soil properties have an influence on CO2 storage and thus on the climate, just as changing climatic conditions have an effect on the storage function of the soil. So the storage function can also be lost again. This is because the destruction of humus-rich soils releases carbon into the atmosphere, thereby increasing the greenhouse effect. This can also occur, with the change in land use (change in vegetation, intensification of agriculture, increased soil cultivation, draining of wetlands) as well as with the melting of permafrost soils. 

Important to know:

  • Soils are not permanent sinks, they can also become a source
  • Soils must not be seen as a “dumping ground” for CO2 emissions
  • Soils store about 3,000 gigatonnes of carbon (about 50% in permafrost soils)
  • Humans have a great influence on carbon storage through the form of land use, choice of planting, fertilisation, etc.
  • Particularly large amounts of carbon are stored in peatlands and permafrost soils, while rather small amounts are stored in arable land.

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, 03. 06. 2023

Bodenwelten, 03. 06. 2023