2014-02. A nanoscale look at how soil captures carbon.

posted Feb 19, 2014, 10:32 AM by Alan Gould   [ updated Feb 19, 2014, 10:36 AM ]
For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 5. Excerpt:  ...Soil is a huge component of the global carbon cycle. Organic material in soil, stabilized by interactions with mineral particles, contains about twice as much carbon as the atmosphere. An accurate treatment of soil’s capacity to sequester carbon is thus an essential ingredient in climate models. It’s long been assumed that all mineral surfaces are equally good at stabilizing carbon, so a soil’s carbon-storage capacity is determined by its total surface area. But Ingrid Kögel-Knabner and colleagues at the Technical University of Munich have now laid that assumption to rest. Using nanoscale secondary-ion mass spectrometry (nanoSIMS), a technique for mapping chemical species on a surface, they’ve shown conclusively that organic matter binds to just 20% of the mineral surface area.... http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/news/10.1063/PT.5.7047. Johanna L. Miller, Physics Today.