Topographic controls on black carbon accumulation in Alaskan black spruce forest soils: implications for organic matter dynamics
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Evan S. Kane; William C. Hockaday; Merritt R. Turetsky; Caroline A. Masiello; David W. Valentine; Bruce P. Finney; J. A. Baldock
Publication Year: 2010

Cataloging Information

  • alkyl carbon
  • aromatic carbon
  • black carbon
  • black spruce
  • black spruce
  • boreal forest
  • boreal forests
  • C - carbon
  • carbon balance
  • charcoal
  • fire frequency
  • fire management
  • mineral soils
  • organic matter
  • organic soil
  • organic soils
  • Picea mariana
  • protein
  • protein
  • soil
  • soil management
  • soil organic matter
  • soils
  • spruce
  • topography
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: May 3, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 49004
Tall Timbers Record Number: 25274
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Not in File
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


There is still much uncertainty as to how wildfire affects the accumulation of burn residues (such as black carbon (BC)) in the soil, and the corresponding changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) composition in boreal forests. We investigated SOC and BC composition in black spruce forests on different landscape positions in Alaska, USA. Mean BC stocks in surface mineral soils (0.34 ± 0.09 kg C m-2) were higher than in organic soils (0.17 ± 0.07 kg C m-2), as determined at four sites by three different 13C Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy-based techniques. Aromatic carbon, protein, BC, and the alkyl:O-alkyl carbon ratio were higher in mineral soil than in organic soil horizons. There was no trend between mineral soil BC stocks and fire frequencies estimated from lake sediment records at four sites, and soil BC was relatively modern (< 54-400 years, based on mean D14C ranging from 95.1 to -54.7 o/oo). A more extensive analysis (90 soil profiles) of mineral soil BC revealed that interactions among landscape position, organic layer depth, and bulk density explained most of the variance in soil BC across sites, with less soil BC occurring in relatively cold forests with deeper organic layers. We suggest that shallower organic layer depths and higher bulk densities found in warmer boreal forests are more favorable for BC production in wildfire, and more BC is integrated with mineral soil than organic horizons. Soil BC content likely reflected more recent burning conditions influenced by topography, and implications of this for SOC composition (e.g., aromaticity and protein content) are discussed. © Springer Science+Buxiness Media B.V. 2010.

Kane, E. S., W. C. Hockaday, M. R. Turetsky, C. A. Masiello, D. W. Valentine, B. P. Finney, and J. A. Baldock. 2010. Topographic controls on black carbon accumulation in Alaskan black spruce forest soils: implications for organic matter dynamics. Biogeochemistry, v. 100, no. 1-3, p. 39-56. 10.1007/s10533-009-9403-z.