Canadian Forest Service Publications

A Canadian upland forest soil profile and carbon stocks database. 2018. Shaw, C.; Hilger, A.; Filiatrault, M.; Kurz, W. Ecology 99(4):989.

Year: 2018

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 39185

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2159

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Mark record


“A Canadian upland forest soil profile and carbon stocks database” was compiled in phases over a period of 10 years to address various questions related to modeling upland forest soil carbon in a national forest carbon accounting model. For 3,253 pedons, the SITES table contains estimates for soil organic carbon stocks (Mg/ha) in organic horizons and mineral horizons to a 100‐cm depth, soil taxonomy, leading tree species, mean annual temperature, annual precipitation, province or territory, terrestrial ecozone, and latitude and longitude, with an assessment of the quality of information about location. The PROFILES table contains profile data (16,167 records by horizon) used to estimate the carbon stocks that appear in the SITES table, plus additional soil chemical and physical data, where provided by the data source. The exceptions to this are estimates for soil carbon stocks based on Canadian National Forest Inventory data (NFI [2006] in REFERENCES table), where data were collected by depth increment rather than horizon and, therefore, total soil carbon stocks were calculated separately before being entered into the SITES table. Data in the PROFILES table include the carbon stock estimate for each horizon (corrected for coarse fragment content), and the data used to calculate the carbon stock estimate, such as horizon thickness, bulk density, and percent organic carbon. The PROFILES table also contains data, when reported by the source, for percent carbonate carbon, pH, percent total nitrogen, particle size distribution (percent sand, silt, clay), texture class, exchangeable cations, cation and total exchange capacity, and percent Fe and Al. An additional table provides references (REFERENCES table) for the source data. Earlier versions of the database were used to develop national soil carbon modeling categories based on differences in carbon stocks linked to soil taxonomy and to examine the potential of using soil taxonomy and leading tree species to improve accuracy in modeled predictions. The current database is being used to develop soil carbon model parameters linked to soil taxonomy and leading tree species and, by various governmental and nongovernmental organizations, to improve digital mapping of ecosite types and soil properties regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Plain Language Summary

Computer models are often used to calculate the amount of carbon in forest soils and to create maps of forest soil carbon. Making improvements to these models requires large data sets. We gathered and standardized soil carbon, chemical (e.g., pH, percent total nitrogen) and physical (e.g., percent sand, silt and clay) data for the soil organic layer on the mineral soil surface, and the mineral soil (100 cm deep) at 3253 locations. Data were gathered from federal and provincial data sets, soil survey reports, and scientific papers. These data were used to improve a Canadian forest carbon computer model and to improve maps of soil carbon in Canada. Both are important to understanding and reporting on the amount of carbon in Canada’s forests and the amount of greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) moving from the forest to the atmosphere. Publishing this database makes it readily available to other researchers asking questions about forest carbon locally, nationally, and internationally.