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Sustainability 2016, 8(4), 371; doi:10.3390/su8040371

A Worldwide Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Drained Organic Soils

1
Statistics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Rome 00153, Italy
2
Land and Water Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Rome 00153, Italy
3
Climate and Environment Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Rome 00153, Italy
4
European Commission Joint Research Center, Via Enrico Fermi 2749, Ispra 21027, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Tiziano Gomiero
Received: 23 December 2015 / Revised: 7 April 2016 / Accepted: 8 April 2016 / Published: 15 April 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Issues on Soil Management and Conservation)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1901 KB, uploaded 15 April 2016]   |  

Abstract

Despite the importance of organic soils, including peatlands, in the global carbon cycle, detailed information on regional and global emissions is scarce. This is due to the difficulty to map, measure, and assess the complex dynamics of land, soil, and water interactions needed to assess the human-driven degradation of organic soils. We produced a new methodology for the comprehensive assessment of drained organic soils in agriculture and the estimation of the associated greenhouse gas emissions. Results indicated that over 25 million hectares of organic soils were drained worldwide for agriculture use, of which about 60% were in boreal and temperate cool areas, 34% in tropical areas, and 5% in warm temperate areas. Total emissions from the drainage were globally significant, totaling nearly one billion tonnes CO2eq annually. Of this, the CO2 component, about 780 million tonnes, represented more than one-fourth of total net CO2 emissions from agriculture, forestry, and land use. The bulk of these emissions came from a few tropical countries in Southeast Asia, and was linked to land clearing and drainage for crop cultivation. Geospatial data relative to this work were disseminated via the FAO geospatial server GeoNetwork, while the national aggregated statistics were disseminated via the FAOSTAT database. View Full-Text
Keywords: organic soils; peatlands; drainage; soil; climate change; emissions; mitigation; cropland; grassland; land cover/land use organic soils; peatlands; drainage; soil; climate change; emissions; mitigation; cropland; grassland; land cover/land use
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Tubiello, F.N.; Biancalani, R.; Salvatore, M.; Rossi, S.; Conchedda, G. A Worldwide Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Drained Organic Soils. Sustainability 2016, 8, 371.

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