Soil Carbon Sequestration: An Alternative Option for Climate Change Mitigation

Soil Carbon Sequestration: An Alternative Option for Climate Change Mitigation

Manish Kumar Goyal (Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, India) and Irom Royal (Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, India)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7336-6.ch002
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The gaseous composition of our earth's atmosphere has changed drastically in recent years. This has resulted in unprecedented global warming, hydrological variation, and various climate change impacts in different places of the world. Mitigation and adaptive strategies of climate change through soil carbon sequestration technique is emerged as an alternative option. Among the different types of soil, forest soil has the highest potential to sequester atmospheric carbon because of its rich ecology. However, human-induced deforestation activities and traditional methods of cultivation perturb the soil of organic carbon. Therefore, it is essential to understand the various influencing factors and subsequently the improvement of existing ecosystem for the mitigation of global climate change to some extent. Studies and innovative research on agroforestry, including soil carbon sequestration at regional level, will be a better choice for improvement of environment, food security, and climate change.
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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that warming of the climate system is now ‘unequivocal’, based on scientific evidences of warming in global average temperatures, frequent and severity of extreme events, and melting of snow and rising sea levels (IPCC, 2007)

Increase in the concentration of Greenhouse gases is one of the main factor for inducing the climate change. Re-radiation of earth’s energy by the greenhouse gases (GHGs) towards the earth’s surface known as greenhouse effect causes the heating up of the earth’s surface which led to the change in the hydrological cycle and subsequently the climate change. It is considered that the rapid urbanization along with population growth during the past several decades have greatly enhanced the GHGs concentration in atmosphere. Among the GHGs, it is known that carbon dioxide is the major contributor to global warming. Other green-house gases such as CH4, CO, N2O etc. also have important role in global warming either directly or indirectly even though the percentage contribution has been minimal as compare to former. In order to cope and frame policies on the growing crisis of climate change, a committee known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 with the sole aim to provide the world a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge on climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Options

IPCC and other research agencies working on climate changes suggested a lay layout for the mitigation of climate change related issues. First one is the detection and reduction of greenhouse gas sources both at global and local level. Second is the identification and improvement of sinking pools. In order to meet the National GHGs emission baseline, monitoring, identification and establishment of ambient GHGs in urban areas are highly essential (Figure 1). The growing GHGs concentration in the urban areas or cities popularly known as the ‘greenhouse cap’ has been a source of concern. But considering the pace at which the countries are advancing in all the sectors and the rate at which the population rate is growing, the feasibility of the GHGs emission reduction from urban sources is low both from the political and technical perspective. It was also noted that many countries have dramatically increased the emission rate at the end of the first Kyoto protocol period rather than reduce emission of the GHGs. Scientists, engineers, policy makers, and others are finding the ways to reduce the growing threat of climate change. Though, there is no single solution, yet the development of geoengineering technologies, may play an important role in addressing this issue. Wide range of geoengineering techniques have been developed and proposed as a remedy for climate change but only a few of them are scientifically proven and have political, scientific, and public support. Geoengineering technologies defer in term of their technological characteristic and possible consequences. Geoengineering technologies are primarily divided into two categories viz. CDR (Carbon dioxide reduction) technique and SRM (Solar radiation management).

Figure 1.

Climate change and mitigation initiatives


SDR technique is a way to cool the earth quickly by reflecting some part of the solar radiation before it penetrates deeper into the earth’s atmosphere (Granger & Katharine, 2010). Serious research works are lacking in these technique mainly because of the great uncertainties involved. The technique to capture atmospheric carbon and storing in a place from where it would not be remitted back unless disturbed externally is termed as carbon sequestration or carbon dioxide reduction (CDR) technique. The CDR technique involve both the analysis & enhancement of the natural carbon capturing capacity of ecosystem and the human engineered method of sequestering carbon. Identification and enhancement of carbon sequestration potential of natural ecosystem is the most widely supported type of geoengineering technique. Basically, the natural ecological sequestration includes the upper biomass carbon sequestration by green trees and plants during the process of photosynthesis. The major portion of carbon dioxide capture by the green plants is stored in its body until death. Increase carbon storage by enhancing green plants or afforestation is accepted and actively practice as a part of the clean development mechanism (CDM) projects. Another technique include the below biomass including soil, popularly known as the Soil Carbon Sequestration.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Climate Change: Sudden or gradual unconventional change in the global climatic condition.

Geoengineering: Human engineered techniques to reduce atmospheric GHGs concentration.

Food Security: the ongoing availability of food with adequate amount and nutrient.

Global Warming: Additional increase in global atmospheric temperature due to greenhouse effect.

Carbon Sequestration: The process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon from where it won’t be remitted again.

Agroforestry: Combine farming of agricultural cropping with forestry.

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