Campeau, A. B., Lafleur, P. M. and Humphreys, E. R. 2014. Landscape-scale variability in soil organic carbon storage in the central Canadian Arctic. Can. J. Soil Sci. 94: 477-488. Arctic soils constitute a vast, but poorly quantified, pool of soil organic carbon (SOC). The uncertainty associated with pan-Arctic SOC storage estimates - a result of limited SOC and land cover data - needs to be reduced if we are to better predict the impact of future changes to Arctic carbon stocks resulting from climate warming. In this study landscape-scale variability in SOC at a Southern Arctic Ecozone site in the central Canadian Arctic was investigated with the ultimate goal of up-scaling SOC estimates with a land cover classification system. Total SOC was estimated to depths of 30 cm and 50 cm for 76 soil pits, together representing eight different vegetation communities in seven different broad landscape units. Soil organic carbon to 50 cm was lowest for the xerophytic herb community in the esker complex landscape unit (7.2±2.2 SD kg m-2) and highest in the birch hummock terrain in the lowland tundra landscape unit (36.4±2.8 kg m-2), followed by wet sedge and dry sedge communities in the wetland complex (29.8±9.9 and 22.0±2.0 kg m-2, respectively). The up-scaled estimates of mean SOC for the study area (excluding water) were 15.8 kg m-2 (to 50 cm) and 11.6 kg m-2 (to 30 cm). On a landscape scale, soil moisture content was found to have an important influence on SOC variability. Overall, this study highlights the importance of SOC variability at fine scales and its impact on up-scaling SOC in Arctic landscapes.
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Vol. 94 • No. 4