High-Resolution Carbon Monitoring for East Africa

Soil is a variable part of the carbon cycle: In any given land area, soil can be either a source of atmospheric carbon, emitting more carbon than it captures, or a sink, capturing more carbon than it emits. Whether soil acts as a carbon source or sink is largely determined by the activity of microbes in the soil. Current ecosystem models that are coupled with climate models for future projections do not explicitly account for microbial-driven soil carbon processes, however, and the effects of land management practices on soil’s role in the carbon cycle cannot be calculated with the accuracy that policymakers and other stakeholders need.

A team of researchers led by Ying Sun, School of Integrative Plant Science, Soil and Crop Sciences, is improving current climate models to account for how soil and vegetation carbon processes respond to changing environments and land management practices in East Africa. Researchers will integrate top-down approaches that utilize atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration measured by satellites with bottom-up approaches that leverage the predictive model of microbial soil carbon processes developed by co-investigators Johannes Lehmann and Dominic Woolf, also School of Integrative Plant Science, Soil and Crop Sciences. The result will be an innovative carbon monitoring system with high spatial resolution that significantly reduces the uncertainty of carbon budget estimates in East Africa.

This research will engage partners and stakeholders in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania, where the need is critical for accurate high-resolution carbon monitoring that can inform ongoing and future land and carbon management programs, verify the climate impact of these programs, and enhance food security for hundreds of millions of people.

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$690 Thousand spanning 3 years

Sponsored by