Alpine soils store large quantities of total organic carbon (TOC). Given their high sensitivity to climate change, they may release large amounts of CO2 in a warming climate scenario. Thus, it is important to know their C stocks in order to estimate its possible release. While C stocks of forest, dwarf shrub and alpine grassland soils are well documented, little is known about soils and C stocks in high-elevated periglacial environments dominated by frost-driven processes. The object of this study is the periglacial environment of the Stolenberg Plateau (LTER site Istituto Mosso, 3030 m a.s.l.), at the foot of the Monte Rosa Massif (NW Italian Alps). The plateau is mostly covered by a thick stony layer, organized in periglacial blockfields and blockstreams. The plant cover reaches only 3–5%. During the construction of a chair lift, open trenches revealed, unexpectedly, well-developed soils under the active periglacial stone cover. In particular, thick (30–65 cm) and dark TOC-rich A horizons were observed. Below these Umbric horizons, Cambic Bw ones were developed but discontinuous. Despite the lack of vegetation, C stocks were remarkably high (up to ~ 5 kg m 2), comparable to vegetated soils at lower elevation. Non-invasive geophysical methods revealed that these hidden soils were widespread on the plateau under the stony cover, with a mean thickness of around 50 cm. These TOC-rich soils, without vegetation and covered by periglacial landforms, represent a unique pedoenvironment suggesting new perspectives on the actual C-stocks at high-elevation sites, which are probably underestimated.

Hidden soils and their carbon stocks at high-elevation in the European Alps (North-West Italy) / E. Pintaldi, M.E. D’Amico, N. Colombo, C. Colombero, L. Sambuelli, C. De Regibus, D. Franco, L. Perotti, L. Paro, M. Freppaz. - In: CATENA. - ISSN 0341-8162. - 198(2021 Mar), pp. 105044.1-105044.13. [10.1016/j.catena.2020.105044]

Hidden soils and their carbon stocks at high-elevation in the European Alps (North-West Italy)

M.E. D’Amico
;
M. Freppaz
2021-03

Abstract

Alpine soils store large quantities of total organic carbon (TOC). Given their high sensitivity to climate change, they may release large amounts of CO2 in a warming climate scenario. Thus, it is important to know their C stocks in order to estimate its possible release. While C stocks of forest, dwarf shrub and alpine grassland soils are well documented, little is known about soils and C stocks in high-elevated periglacial environments dominated by frost-driven processes. The object of this study is the periglacial environment of the Stolenberg Plateau (LTER site Istituto Mosso, 3030 m a.s.l.), at the foot of the Monte Rosa Massif (NW Italian Alps). The plateau is mostly covered by a thick stony layer, organized in periglacial blockfields and blockstreams. The plant cover reaches only 3–5%. During the construction of a chair lift, open trenches revealed, unexpectedly, well-developed soils under the active periglacial stone cover. In particular, thick (30–65 cm) and dark TOC-rich A horizons were observed. Below these Umbric horizons, Cambic Bw ones were developed but discontinuous. Despite the lack of vegetation, C stocks were remarkably high (up to ~ 5 kg m 2), comparable to vegetated soils at lower elevation. Non-invasive geophysical methods revealed that these hidden soils were widespread on the plateau under the stony cover, with a mean thickness of around 50 cm. These TOC-rich soils, without vegetation and covered by periglacial landforms, represent a unique pedoenvironment suggesting new perspectives on the actual C-stocks at high-elevation sites, which are probably underestimated.
Soil organic matter; Periglacial; Blockstream/Blockfield; Skeletic Umbrisol (Arenic, Turbic)
Settore AGR/14 - Pedologia
Settore GEO/11 - Geofisica Applicata
Settore GEO/04 - Geografia Fisica e Geomorfologia
22-nov-2020
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/874599
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