Soils comprise the largest part of the terrestrial carbon store, at 1600 GtC they are approximately twice the atmospheric carbon pool and three times the vegetation carbon pool. Carbon storage and sequestration in soils is closely linked to soil redox conditions so that in erosional areas soil disturbance has the potential to lead to carbon release whilst depositional zones are potential areas of carbon sequestration. Consequently the mobility and atmospheric availability of soil and sediment carbon is strongly controlled by the local suite of geomorphological processes. Despite the direct link between soil and sediment mobility and carbon flux the role of particulates in carbon balance at a range of scales remains poorly understood. In part this is because geomorphologists have been slow to engage with the carbon science community. There are of course many notable exceptions to this generalisation. The work of Trurtrum et al. (e.g. Page et al. 2004) provides an excellent example of the way that standard geomorphological techniques and understanding can be used to generate a more sophisticated understanding of the terrestrial carbon cycle than has previously been possible.
The aim of this working group is to develop links between geomorphologists currently working on carbon cycling and to promote the development of further work on the links between geomorphology and biogeochemical cycling. The working group will have four main themes, the first three of which are areas where geomorphologists are currently making contributions and the fourth of which is an area where we believe geomorphologists can make a significant contribution.
1) Theme 1 Geomorphological controls on peatland carbon cycling
2) Theme 2 Agricultural soil erosion and soil carbon sequestration
3) Theme 3 Continental scale fluvial carbon
4) Theme 4 Sediment budgets as carbon budgets