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Co-ordinate an expert Group to assemble UK-wide data on soil carbon (and greenhouse gas fluxes) in the context of land management - SP0562

Current literature on the state of soil carbon levels in UK soils is equivocal. Predictions of future changes in soil carbon levels related to land use and climate change are highly uncertain, so evidence-based policy setting is extremely difficult.

Recent reports and workshops commissioned by UK Government have suggested the need to collate UK data on soil carbon and the release of greenhouse gases in relation to land management. This would enable a clear picture to be gained of the current state of UK soil carbon and the processes driving change, and inform model predictions of future changes. Furthermore, gaps in these data could then be identified and a programme of work developed to address such gaps.

This project will collate these data through the use of an Expert Group drawn from experienced and recognised members of the UK soil science community who have the broad range of skills required to tackle this complex and multifaceted task. The Expert Group will be managed by a Project Manager in order to:

1. Assess the existence, availability and provenance of data on UK soil carbon stocks, fluxes and land use influences.
2. Appraise the potential limitations of these data and draw conclusions on how these limitation may be reduced.

3. Establish the data and research requirements to deliver better and more certain outputs from existing models for C turnover, fate and behaviour.

The main output from this project will be a brief review of UK soil carbon data sources and shortfalls in these data. This will provide up to date evidence to policy makers in relation to soil carbon and land management. Tasks for a second phase of work will include developing the system maps using the available data sources and internationally recognised experts.
The overall objective of this work is to assemble UK-wide data on soil carbon (and greenhouse gas fluxes) in the context of land management.

The programme of work will be undertaken in two phases; this project is concerned with the first phase and has the following specific objectives:

1. Form and manage an expert group to identify the key areas of investigation to achieve the overall objective, specifically:
a) Identify the existence and value of UK datasets for use in setting a baseline for soil carbon stocks in the UK. Determine how best existing data can be collated and used in meeting the overall objective, but flag any significant data gaps.
b) To understand some of the key land use changes and processes affecting soil C (and other soil-based sources of greenhouse gases) to occur over the next 50 years in regard to stocks and possible fluxes. Determine how best these data can be collated and used in meeting the overall objective and also to identify data shortfalls.
c) Identify the key tools and models for the prediction of soil C fate and behaviour in the UK. Consider the validation and ‘truthing’ of these tools and assess the data requirements needed to reduce uncertainty of outputs if used to understand the processes driving spatial and temporal properties of carbon in soil in the UK.

2. Provide a strategic and coordinated programme of work to deliver integration of these three key areas and fill significant data gaps.

3. Prioritise the items in this programme in regard to the potential value for providing evidence for policy makers for the management of soil carbon. Additionally, clearly describe likely residual uncertainty and underlying assumptions that will exist in relation to this evidence.

Project Documents
• Final Report : Co-ordinate an Expert Group to assemble UK-wide data on soil carbon (greenhouse gase fluxes) in the context of land management.   (174k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2007

To: 2008

Cost: £40,124
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Watts and Crane Associates
Environmental Protection              
Fields of Study
Soil Protection