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San Michele, Italy

Pusceddu E.,CNR Institute for Biometeorology | Criscuoli I.,FoxLab | Miglietta F.,CNR Institute for Biometeorology
Journal of Physics: Conference Series | Year: 2013

In the latest years, the attention toward the use of pyrogenic carbon as a climate mitigation strategy has increasingly grown. Biochar (BC) contains substantial amount (60-90%) of pyrogenic carbon, which is a recalcitrant material and it is hardly decomposed by biotic and abiotic oxidation. The carbon mitigation potential of biochar is associated to the fact that carbon is not easily released back into the atmosphere, even after very long incubation time in the soil. Several studies have been addressing the understanding of the fate of pyrogenic carbon in the soil in a quantitative way, but only a few actually considered materials that were produced in the past and they were not fully able to estimate the fraction of carbon that was oxidized on centennial time scales. In this paper, an old deposits of biochar in soils of the Eastern Alps (Trentino, Val di Pejo) was dated at 1859 by means of a dendroanthracological approach. Carbon decomposition in those soils was then investigated to calculate the fraction of carbon that was lost over 155 years. Part of this study is focused on the morphological and physical characterization of several fragments of biochar, using a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Such study enabled the identification of specific morphological features of tracheids in the old biochar, which were tentatively associated to a differential oxidation of the structures that were created during carbonization from lignin and cellulose.

Criscuoli I.,FoxLab | Criscuoli I.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Alberti G.,European forest Institute | Alberti G.,University of Udine | And 10 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

The addition of pyrogenic carbon (C) in the soil is considered a potential strategy to achieve direct C sequestration and potential reduction of non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. In this paper, we investigated the long term effects of charcoal addition on C sequestration and soil physico-chemical properties by studying a series of abandoned charcoal hearths in the Eastern Alps of Italy established in the XIX century. This natural setting can be seen as an analogue of a deliberate experiment with replications. Carbon sequestration was assessed indirectly by comparing the amount of pyrogenic C present in the hearths (23.3±4.7 kg C m-2) with the estimated amount of charcoal that was left on the soil after the carbonization (29.3±5.1 kg C m -2). After taking into account uncertainty associated with parameters' estimation, we were able to conclude that 80±21% of the C originally added to the soil via charcoal can still be found there and that charcoal has an overall Mean Residence Time of 650±139 years, thus supporting the view that charcoal incorporation is an effective way to sequester atmospheric CO2. We also observed an overall change in the physical properties (hydrophobicity and bulk density) of charcoal hearth soils and an accumulation of nutrients compared to the adjacent soil without charcoal. We caution, however, that our site-specific results should not be generalized without further study. © 2014 Criscuoli et al.

Vaglio Laurin G.,Euro Mediterranean Center on Climate Change | Vaglio Laurin G.,University of Rome Tor Vergata | Cheung-Wai Chan J.,FoxLab | Cheung-Wai Chan J.,Vrije Universiteit Brussel | And 11 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Tropical forests are major repositories of biodiversity, but are fast disappearing as land is converted to agriculture. Decisionmakers need to know which of the remaining forests to prioritize for conservation, but the only spatial information on forest biodiversity has, until recently, come from a sparse network of ground-based plots. Here we explore whether airborne hyperspectral imagery can be used to predict the alpha diversity of upper canopy trees in a West African forest. The abundance of tree species were collected from 64 plots (each 1250 m2 in size) within a Sierra Leonean national park, and Shannon-Wiener biodiversity indices were calculated. An airborne spectrometer measured reflectances of 186 bands in the visible and near-infrared spectral range at 1 m2 resolution. The standard deviations of these reflectance values and their first-order derivatives were calculated for each plot from the c. 1250 pixels of hyperspectral information within them. Shannon-Wiener indices were then predicted from these plot-based reflectance statistics using a machine-learning algorithm (Random Forest). The regression model fitted the data well (pseudo-R2 = 84.9%), and we show that standard deviations of green-band reflectances and infra-red region derivatives had the strongest explanatory powers. Our work shows that airborne hyperspectral sensing can be very effective at mapping canopy tree diversity, because its high spatial resolution allows within-plot heterogeneity in reflectance to be characterized, making it an effective tool for monitoring forest biodiversity over large geographic scales. © 2014 Vaglio Laurin et al.

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