Publication Abstracts

Hillel and Rosenzweig 2010

Hillel, D., and C. Rosenzweig, 2010: The role of soils in climate change. In Handbook of Climate Change and Agroecosystems: Impacts, Adaptation, and Mitigation. D. Hillel and C. Rosenzweig, Eds., ICP Series on Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation, and Mitigation Vol. 1. Imperial College Press, pp. 9-20.

The earth's biosphere constitutes a bio-thermodynamic machine that is driven by solar energy and the exchanges of water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other components in the pedosphere-hydrosphere-atmosphere continuum. Green plants in the terrestrial domain perform photosynthesis by absorbing CO2 and reducing it to forms of organic carbon in combination with soil-derived water, while utilizing the energy of sunlight. In the process, radiant energy is transformed into chemical energy that is stored in the molecular bonds of organic compounds produced by the plants. This in turn provides the basis for the food chain, which sustains all kinds of animal life.

Roughly 50% of the carbon photosynthesized by plants is returned to the atmosphere as CO2 in the process of plant respiration. The rest, being the carbon assimilated and incorporated in leaves, stems, fruits, and roots, exists as standing biomass or is depositied on or within the soil. There, organic compounds are ingested by a diverse biotic community, including primary decomposers (bacteria and fungi) and an array of mesofauna and macrofauna (nematodes, insects, earthworms, rodents, etc.). The ultimate product of organic matter decay in the soil is a complex of relatively stable compounds known collectively as humus. It generally accounts for some 60 to 80% of the total organic matter present, the balance consisting of recent organic debris of partially decomposed litter, dead roots, and the waste products of soil fauna.

  • An earlier version of this article was published as "Soil carbon and climate change: Carbon exchange in the terrestrial domain and the role of agriculture". CSA News, 54, no. 6, 4-11 (2009).

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BibTeX Citation

@inbook{hi08100v,
  author={Hillel, D. and Rosenzweig, C.},
  editor={Hillel, D. and Rosenzweig, C.},
  title={The role of soils in climate change},
  booktitle={Handbook of Climate Change and Agroecosystems: Impacts, Adaptation, and Mitigation},
  year={2010},
  pages={9--20},
  publisher={Imperial College Press},
  address={London},
  series={ICP Series on Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation, and Mitigation Vol. 1},
}

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RIS Citation

TY  - CHAP
ID  - hi08100v
AU  - Hillel, D.
AU  - Rosenzweig, C.
ED  - Hillel, D.
ED  - Rosenzweig, C.
PY  - 2010
TI  - The role of soils in climate change
BT  - Handbook of Climate Change and Agroecosystems: Impacts, Adaptation, and Mitigation
T3  - ICP Series on Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation, and Mitigation Vol. 1
SP  - 9
EP  - 20
PB  - Imperial College Press
CY  - London
ER  -

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