ECOSSE: Estimating Carbon in Organic Soils - Sequestration and Emissions: Final Report

DescriptionECOSSE: Estimating Carbon in Organic Soils - Sequestration and Emissions: Final Report
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateMarch 16, 2007


ISBN 978 0 7559 1498 2 (Web only publication)
This document is also available in pdf format (2.1mb)


Executive Summary

Aims of the ECOSSE project
Objectives of the ECOSSE project

Module 1 The distribution of organic soils in Scotland and Wales and the C contained in them
1.1 Types of organic and organo-mineral soils in Scotland and Wales
1.1.1 Scotland
1.1.2 Wales
1.2 The spatial distribution of organic and organo-mineral soils in Scotland and Wales
1.2.1 Scotland
1.2.2 Wales
1.3 Calculation of organic matter depth for organic soils
1.3.1 Scotland
1.3.2 Wales
1.4 Validation of mapped estimates of carbon stocks in organic soils in two upland catchments
1.4.1 Introduction
1.4.2 Calculating carbon stocks
1.4.3 Differences between measured and modelled carbon
1.4.4 Sources of uncertainty when estimating carbon stocks
1.4.5 Summary
1.5 Estimation of the carbon within the peats and organo-mineral soils
1.5.1 Scotland
1.5.2 Wales
1.6 Conclusions

Module 2 Development of a model to simulate C and N cycling in organic soils to provide predictions of their response to land-use, management and climate change
2.1 Modelling soil C and N cycling in organic soils
2.1.1 Where current soil carbon models do not work
2.1.2 Development of the ECOSSE model - summary
The detailed description of the model, including the form of equations used to describe the processes included, is given in Annex 1.
2.2 Collection of new data
2.2.1 John Miles Birch Plots
2.2.2 Pinewood site
2.3 Evaluation of model performance

Module 3 Land-use and climate change impacts on organic soils and relationships to GHG emissions: new measurements
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Measurements
3.3 Results
3.3.1 Soil properties
3.3.2 Soil respiration, CH4 and N2O fluxes
3.4 Summary
3.5 13CO2 pulse labelling

Module 4 The effects of land-use change and climate change on the release of Dissolved Organic Matter from organic soils
4.1 Introduction
4.1.1. Background
4.1.2. The importance of DOC fluxes in the C budget
4.1.3. Sources of DOC
4.1.4. Causes of rising DOC concentrations
4.1.4. Causes of rising DOC concentrations
4.1.5. Influence of land use and management on DOC loss

Module 5 Estimates Of Carbon Loss From Scenarios Of Accelerated Erosion Of Peats
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Background
5.3 Causes of peat erosion
5.3.1 Erosion processes
5.3.2 Dissection processes
5.3.3 Climate
5.3.4 Burning
5.3.5 Grazing
5.3.6 Atmospheric pollution
5.3.7 Drainage
5.3.8 Other factors
5.2.9 Peat slide and bog bursts
5.4 Extent of peat erosion
5.4.1 Scotland
5.4.2 Wales
5.5 Approaches to define, identify and quantify peat erosion and losses
5.5.1 Modelling of erosion susceptibility
5.5.2 Surveys vs. sediment budget analysis
5.5.3 Use of air photographs/remote sensing
5.5.4 Field measurements of rates of peat loss
5.5.5 Long-term river records
5.6 Future trends
5.6.1 Burning
5.6.2 Grazing
5.6.3 Acid deposition
5.6.4 Climatic factors
5.6.5 Other factors
5.7 Conclusions
5.8 Summary

Module 6 Options For Mitigating C And N Loss From Organic Soils Used For Agriculture
6.1 Literature review of impacts of agricultural management on organic soils
6.1.1 Introduction
6.1.2 Agricultural Management Practices
6.2 Good practice guidance for the agricultural management of organic soils
6.2.1 Summary
6.2.2 Good practice guidance for arable land use on organic soils
6.2.3 Good practice guidance for improved grassland on organic soils
6.2.4 Good practice guidance for rough grazing on organic soils

Module 7 Suggestions For Guidance On The Likely Effects Of Changing Land Use From Grazing Or Semi-Natural Vegetation To Forestry On Soil C And N In Organic Soils
7.1 An assessment of the likely effects of changing land use from grazed or semi-natural vegetation to forestry on carbon stores and fluxes in upland organo-mineral soils in the UK
7.1.1 Evidence from direct measurement of SOC stocks
7.1.2 Evidence from flux studies
7.2 Provisional management guidance

Module 8 Use Of The Land-Use Change Data Derived From The Countryside Surveys Of Scotland And Wales To Provide Predictive Estimates For Changes To C And N Balance In Organic Soils Over Time
8.1 Introduction
8.1.1 The matrix approach for assessing land use change
8.1.2 Sources of information on national land use change
8.2 Methods and results
8.2.1 Development of land use matrices 1950-1980 for Wales.
8.2.2 Development of land use matrices 1950-1980 for Scotland
8.2.3 Development of matrices 1980-present
8.2.4 Relationship to soil type


Appendix 1 Additional information for Module 1: Regression equation to predict dry bulk density of organic surface horizons in Scotland.

Appendix 2 Development and description of the ECOSSE model
A2.1 Modularisation of SUNDIAL/ MAGEC
A2.2 Improved description of N2O production
A2.3 Description of methane production and oxidation
A2.4 Description of dissolved organic matter (C and N): turnover and losses
A2.5 Improved layer structure in the soil profile
A2.6. Initialisation of the size and characteristics of the soil organic matter pools
A2.7 Incorporation of the effect of pH on soil processes
A2.8 Incorporation of the effect of saturated conditions on soil processes

Appendix 3 Additional tables and figure for module 8

Appendix 4 Literature consulted when building the ECOSSE model

Research Partners:

Pete Smith - University of Aberdeen
Jo Smith - University of Aberdeen
Helen Flynn - University of Aberdeen
Ken Killham - University of Aberdeen
Ignacio Rangel-Castro - University of Aberdeen
Bente Foereid - University of Aberdeen
Matt Aitkenhead - University of Aberdeen
Steve Chapman - Macaulay Institute
Willie Towers - Macaulay Institute
John Bell - Macaulay Institute
David Lumsdon - Macaulay Institute
Ronnie Milne - Centre for Ecology and Hydrology - Edinburgh
Amanda Thomson - Centre for Ecology and Hydrology - Edinburgh
Ivan Simmons - Centre for Ecology and Hydrology - Edinburgh
Ute Skiba - Centre for Ecology and Hydrology - Edinburgh
Brian Reynolds - Centre for Ecology and Hydrology - Bangor
Chris Evans - Centre for Ecology and Hydrology - Bangor
Zoë Frogbrook - Centre for Ecology and Hydrology - Bangor
Ian Bradley - National Soil Resources Institute, Cranfield University
Andy Whitmore - Rothamsted Research
Pete Falloon - Rothamsted Research (now at UK Met Office Hadley Centre)


Further copies of this report are available on the Scottish Executive website at:

Any other queries should be addressed to:

Climate Change and Air Division
Scottish Executive
Victoria Quay


The views expressed in this report are those of the researchers and do not necessarily reflect those of the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department or Scottish Ministers.

© Crown Copyright 2007

Limited extracts from the text may be reproduced provided the source is acknowledged. For more extensive reproduction, please contact the Environmental Research Co-ordination Unit, Scottish Executive, Room 1J-88), Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ.

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