Fates of eroded soil organic carbon: Mississippi Basin case study

Ecological Applications
By: , and 



We have developed a mass balance analysis of organic carbon (OC) across the five major river subsystems of the Mississippi (MS) Basin (an area of 3.2 × 106 km2). This largely agricultural landscape undergoes a bulk soil erosion rate of ∼480 t·km−2·yr−1 (∼1500 × 106 t/yr, across the MS Basin), and a soil organic carbon (SOC) erosion rate of ∼7 t·km−2·yr−1 (∼22 × 106 t/yr). Erosion translocates upland SOC to alluvial deposits, water impoundments, and the ocean. Soil erosion is generally considered to be a net source of CO2 release to the atmosphere in global budgets. However, our results indicate that SOC erosion and relocation of soil apparently can reduce the net SOC oxidation rate of the original upland SOC while promoting net replacement of eroded SOC in upland soils that were eroded. Soil erosion at the MS Basin scale is, therefore, a net CO2 sink rather than a source.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Fates of eroded soil organic carbon: Mississippi Basin case study
Series title Ecological Applications
DOI 10.1890/05-0073
Volume 15
Issue 6
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Description 12 p.
First page 1929
Last page 1940
Country United States
Other Geospatial Mississippi basin
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details