First Soil Atlas of the Northern Circumpolar Region published|
4 May 2010
The JRC Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES) has published the first Soil Atlas of the Northern Circumpolar Region bringing together soil data for all the land masses above the latitude of 50° North. The maps describe the major soil types found in this region, together with their principal properties and characteristics, their main forming processes and their use.
Although representing only 15% of global land surface, the northernmost regions of our planet store more than half of the carbon present in the Earth's soils. So far, the public perception focuses on the melting of arctic ice as one of the indicators for climate change. However, 1700 billion tons of organic carbon are kept in the soils of the northern permafrost region and their thawing could lead to substantial release of green house gases into the atmosphere and would further increase global warming. The new Atlas is the first compilation providing all the available information on this carbon pool as well as other important data on northern soils. The atlas will therefore provide a valuable scientific input to climate change and sustainable development models.
The 144-page atlas is the result of a three-year collaborative project with partners from northern EU countries, as well as Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, the USA and Russia, and gives a detailed overview of circumpolar soil resources, which are also relevant to agriculture, forest management, water management, land use planning, infrastructure, housing and energy transport networks.
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