Modelling and mapping soil organic carbon stocks under future climate change in south-eastern Australia

Bin Wang, Jonathan M. Gray, Cathy M. Waters, Muhuddin Rajin Anwar, Susan E. Orgill, Annette L. Cowie, Puyu Feng, De Li Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Soil organic carbon (SOC) plays a key role in the sequestration of carbon that could otherwise be warming the atmosphere. Climate change including increased temperature and changed rainfall will greatly impact the global SOC cycle. There are still significant gaps in our knowledge of the size of the global SOC pool and how future climate will affect SOC stocks and flows in many parts of the world, including Australia. In this study, we used SOC data in a Digital Soil Mapping framework to predict current and future SOC stocks across the state of New South Wales (NSW) in south-eastern Australia. In the first phase of the study we estimated the current SOC stock using multiple linear regression (MLR) and random forest (RF) modelling, and in the second phase we projected the change of SOC stocks in the near future (2050s) and far future (2090s) under two Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) scenarios based on 25 global climate models (GCMs) from the Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6). Our spatial modelling showed that estimated current SOC stocks in NSW decreased from east to west. Multi-GCM ensemble means suggested SOC stocks would decrease by 7.6–12.9% under SSP2-4.5 and 9.1–20.9% under SSP5-8.5 across NSW under future climate. The extent of change in SOC stocks varied spatially with the largest mean decrease of SOC stocks occurring in the North Coast and South East (alpine) regions of NSW. Our findings can support decision-making in land management and climate change mitigation strategies in NSW at the regional level. Furthermore, the modelling methods can be applied to other areas where edaphic and landscape properties, land use, and climate data are available.
Original languageEnglish
Article number115442
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Early online date06 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2022


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