Greenhouse gas emissions from soils - a review
Soils act as sources and sinks for greenhouse gases (GHG) such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). Since both storage and emission capacities may be large, precise quantifications are needed to obtain reliable global budgets that are necessary for land-use management (agriculture, forestry), global change and for climate research. This paper discusses exclusively the soil emissionrelated processes and their influencing parameters. It reviews soil emission studies involving the most important land-cover types and climate zones and introduces important measuring systems for soil emissions. It addresses current shortcomings and the obvious bias towards northern hemispheric data. When using a conservative average of 300 mg CO2e m−2 h−1 (based on our literature review), this leads to global annual net soil emissions of ≥350 Pg CO2e (CO2e = CO2 equivalents = total effect of all GHG normalized to CO2). This corresponds to roughly 21% of the global soil C and N pools. For comparison, 33.4 Pg CO2 are being emitted annually by fossil fuel combustion and the cement industry.