Erosion-induced CO2 flux of small watersheds

Jinren Ni*, Yao Yue, Alistair G. L. Borthwick, Tianhong Li, Chiyuan Miao, Xiaojia He

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Soil erosion not only results in severe ecological damage, but also interferes with soil organic carbon formation and decomposition, influencing the global green-house effect. However, there is controversy as to whether a typical small watershed presumed as the basic unit of sediment yield acts as a CO2 sink or source. This paper proposes a discriminant equation for the direction of CO2 flux in small watersheds, basing on the concept of Sediment Delivery Ratio (SDR). Using this equation, watersheds can be classified as Sink Watersheds, Source Watersheds, or Transition Watersheds, noting that small watersheds can act either as a CO2 sink or as a CO2 source. A mathematical model for calculating the two discriminant coefficients in the equation is set up to analyze the conditions under which each type of watershed would occur. After assigning the model parameter values at three levels (low, medium, and high), and considering 486 scenarios in total, the influences are examined for turnover rate of the carbon pool, erosion rate, deposition rate, cultivation depth and period. The effect of adopting conservation measures like residue return, contour farming, terracing, and conservation tillage is also analyzed. The results show that Sink Watersheds are more likely to result in conditions of high erosion rate, long cultivation period, high deposition rate, fast carbon pool turnover rate, and small depth of cultivation; otherwise, Source Watersheds would possibly occur. The results also indicate that residue return and conservation tillage are beneficial for CO2 sequestration. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-110
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal and planetary change
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • CO2 flux
  • soil erosion
  • watershed classification
  • SINK


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