"Vulnerability indicators" project completed

Voralpenstandort Beatenberg

Radio carbon measurements of organic matter in the topsoil and subsoil of several forest locations point to very similar carbon dynamics in non-waterlogged soils as well as to old, presently stable carbon stocks in the subsoil.

Pre-alpine site Beatenberg, where radiocarbon measurements were done to better assess soil carbon dynamics.

​Soil organic matter (SOM) variability is significant on a scale of several metres and is also of the same magnitude in different geographic regions on a scale of several kilometres. Variability behaviour in a small area is thus approximately similar to that at regional level. Temperature has only a weak impact on carbon dynamics in topsoil. On the other hand, subsoil structure and precipitation both play a more significant role. Lipid compounds are the most stable components of the mineral-bound carbon sink and relatively insensitive to environmental changes. Isotope measurements indicate that geogenic carbon from the bedrock contributes to SOM. Calculations of carbon sources in Swiss soils should therefore not only factor in the role played by vegetation, but also that of the underlying bedrock.