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Journal Articles Soil Research Year : 2022

Continental-scale measurements of soil pyrogenic carbon in Europe

Yamina Pressler
Claudia Boot
  • Function : Author
Emanuele Lugato
  • Function : Author
M. Francesca Cotrufo
  • Function : Author


Pyrogenic carbon (PyC), the product of incomplete biomass combustion, is a key component of soil organic carbon (SOC) because it can persist in soils for centuries to millennia. Quantifying PyC across large spatial scales remains a significant challenge in constraining the global carbon cycle. We measured PyC in topsoils across Europe using molecular marker (benzene polycarboxylic acids, BPCA) and spectroscopic techniques (Diffuse Reflectance Infrared Fourier Transform Spectroscopy, DRIFTS). We developed a calibration between BPCA and DRIFTS, but the calibration was less reliable (Y-variance explained = 0.62) than previous reports due to low soil PyC content and heterogeneity of soil matrices. Thus, we performed multiple regressions to identify drivers of PyC distribution using only the measured BPCA data. PyC content varied widely among soils, contributing 0–24% of SOC. Organic carbon was the strongest predictor of soil PyC content, but mean annual temperature, clay, and cation exchange capacity also emerged as predictors. PyC contributes a smaller proportion of SOC in European soils compared to other geographic regions. Comparing soil PyC measurements to PyC production rates in high latitude and Mediterranean regions suggests that transport, degradation, and recombustion are important mechanisms regulating soil PyC accumulation.
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Dates and versions

hal-03985629 , version 1 (13-02-2023)



Yamina Pressler, Claudia Boot, Samuel Abiven, Emanuele Lugato, M. Francesca Cotrufo. Continental-scale measurements of soil pyrogenic carbon in Europe. Soil Research, 2022, 60 (2), pp.103-113. ⟨10.1071/SR19396⟩. ⟨hal-03985629⟩
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