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Carbon Sequestration. Akilah Martin Fall 2005. Outline. Pre-Assessment Student learning goals Carbon Sequestration Background Century Model Overview What is Expected of Students Assignment/Scenario Example Simulation. Student Learning Goals.

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Carbon sequestration

Carbon Sequestration

Akilah Martin

Fall 2005


  • Pre-Assessment

  • Student learning goals

  • Carbon Sequestration Background

  • Century Model Overview

  • What is Expected of Students

  • Assignment/Scenario

  • Example Simulation

Student learning goals
Student Learning Goals

Through this project students will be able to:

  • Understand the use of models in analyzing and predicting solutions to real-world, complex problems

    (2) Understand carbon sequestration processes

    (3) Correlate tillage practices, soil texture, weather, and cropping sequences with optimal carbon sequestration strategies

    (4) Enhance student’s decision-making skills

    (5) Be able to use the concepts, generate ideas and apply what was learned in their future environmental careers

Defining carbon sequestration
Defining Carbon Sequestration

  • Process of transforming carbon in the air (carbon dioxide or CO2) into soil carbon

  • Long-term storage of carbon in the terrestrial biosphere, underground, or the oceans so that the buildup of carbon dioxide (the principal greenhouse gas) concentration in the atmosphere will be reduced

    • Removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere into sinks (i.e. soil) is one way of addressing climate change


Carbon facts
Carbon Facts

  • In the past 60 years, the amount of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted to the atmosphere, primarily because of expanding use of fossil fuels for energy, has risen from pre-industrial levels of 280 parts per million to present levels of over 365 parts per million

    • This increase has been implicated in a gradual increase in the Earth’s temperature

  • In 1998, the US released 5.4 tonnes of carbon per capita, European countries averaged around 1.9 tonnes and Africa emitted 0.3 tonnes.

    1 tonne = 1,000kg

Carbon storage facts
Carbon Storage Facts

  • Soils store about 3X as much carbon as does terrestrial vegetation

  • 27% of this carbon is found in tundra and boreal forest ecosystems

  • The grassland region, which includes arid, transitional and sub-humid grassland, stores considerably less carbon than the more northern regions

Carbon facts1
Carbon Facts

  • Plants and trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere by the process photosynthesis. 

  • Carbon is returned to the atmosphere through respiration of plants, microbes, and animals and by natural and human-induced disturbances, such as fire. 

  • Carbon is also released to the atmosphere as Carbon Dioxide (CO2) upon combustion of fossil fuels.


Atmospheric carbon
Atmospheric Carbon

  • Atmospheric Carbon goes to:

    • Oceans, soil, and plants

  • Atmospheric Carbon comes from:

    • Burning fossil fuels, soil organic carbon decomposition, and deforestation

Global warming
Global Warming

  • The Earth's surface temperature has risen by 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century, with accelerated warming during the past two decades.

  • Atmospheric greenhouse gases

    • water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other gases

    • Human activities

      • CO2 accounts for 80% of the greenhouse gas emissions


Global warming1
Global Warming

  • Industrial revolution

    • atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have increased nearly 30%

    • methane concentrations have more than doubled

    • nitrous oxide concentrations have risen by about 15%

  • Enhanced the heat-trapping capability of the earth's atmosphere

    • Sulfate aerosols cool the atmosphere by reflecting light back into space

      • Sulfates are short-lived in the atmosphere and vary regionally.

Greenhouse effect
Greenhouse Effect

  • Emissions primarily of CO2 and methane

Processes of the “Greenhouse Effect”

Source of Carbon

Greenhouse gases facts
Greenhouse Gases Facts

  • Water vapor, nitrous oxide, methane, carbon dioxide, and ozone

  • Methane traps over 21 times more heat per molecule than carbon dioxide

  • Nitrous oxide absorbs 270 times more heat per molecule than carbon dioxide

Impacts on agriculture
Impacts on Agriculture

Carbon sources and sinks
Carbon Sources and Sinks

  • Sources Sinks

Industry (air pollution)

Human Activity (Farming)


Fossil Fuel Burning




Potential Carbon Sinks


Fossil fuel burning emissions
Fossil Fuel Burning Emissions

Sources sinks of c sequestration
Sources/Sinks of C-sequestration

Excessive carbon in the atmosphere has been a major contributor to global warming

Atmospheric Carbon


World carbon dioxide emissions by region 2001 2025 million metric tons of carbon equivalent
World Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Region Metric Tons of Carbon Equivalent)

Century model usda ars

  • Colorado State University Research Group

  • Model used to analyze carbon sequestration optimization

  • Web enabled

  • Linked to Purdue ITaP supercomputing facility

  • Century Website


About the model
About the Model….

  • Understanding of the biogeochemistry of Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Sulfur

  • Provide a tool for ecosystem analysis

    • to test the consistency of data (i.e. soil carbon) and to evaluate the effects of changes in management and climate on ecosystems


  • Long-term and spatial dynamics of Carbon (C), Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Sulfur (S) for different Plant-Soil Systems through an annual cycle to centuries and millennia

  • Features

    • grassland systems

    • agricultural crop systems

    • forest systems

    • savanna systems

Scaling of site properties
Scaling of Site Properties

  • We are defining the term “scale” in this project as the many combinations of climate, texture, tillage and crops

  • From location to location, site properties change

  • Those site properties include

    • Tillage

    • Soil texture

    • Climate

    • Crop



After completion of assignment students are expected to:

  • Understand the concepts of carbon sequestration

  • Make decisions on carbon sequestration using the tools provided

  • State a hypothesis, test the hypothesis using the model and make decisions based on results