Multi-scale mapping of Australia’s terrestrial and blue carbon stocks and their continental and bioregional drivers

Lewis Walden, Oscar Serrano, Mingxi Zhang, Zefang Shen, James Z. Sippo, Lauren T. Bennett, Damien T. Maher, Catherine E Lovelock, Peter I Macreadie, Connor Gorham, Anna Lafratta, P. S. Lavery, Luke Mosley, Gloria M. S. Reithmaier, Jeffrey J. Kelleway, Sabine Dittmann, Fernanda Adame, Carlos M. Duarte, John Barry Gallagher, Pawel WaryszakPaul Carnell, Sabine Kasel, Nina Hinko-Najera, Rakib Hassan, Madeline Goddard, Alice R. Jones, Raphael A. Viscarra Rossel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The soil in terrestrial and coastal blue carbon ecosystems is an important carbon sink. National carbon inventories require accurate assessments of soil carbon in these ecosystems to aid conservation, preservation, and nature-based climate change mitigation strategies. Here we harmonise measurements from Australia’s terrestrial and blue carbon ecosystems and apply multi-scale machine learning to derive spatially explicit estimates of soil carbon stocks and the environmental drivers of variation. We find that climate and vegetation are the primary drivers of variation at the continental scale, while ecosystem type, terrain, clay content, mineralogy and nutrients drive subregional variations. We estimate that in the top 0–30 cm soil layer, terrestrial ecosystems hold 27.6 Gt (19.6–39.0 Gt), and blue carbon ecosystems 0.35 Gt (0.20–0.62 Gt). Tall open eucalypt and mangrove forests have the largest soil carbon content by area, while eucalypt woodlands and hummock grasslands have the largest total carbon stock due to the vast areas they occupy. Our findings suggest these are essential ecosystems for conservation, preservation, emissions avoidance, and climate change mitigation because of the additional co-benefits they provide.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCommunications Earth & Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-06-06
Acknowledgements: R.A.V.R., L.W., Z.S., and O.S. thank the Australian Government for funding this research via grant ACSRIV000077. O.S. thanks the additional support of I+D+i projects RYC2019-027073-I and PIE HOLOCENO 20213AT014 funded by MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 and FEDER20213AT014. We thank contributions from Dr. Andy Stevens, Lindsay Hutley, and the many colleagues who contributed to the collection of soil samples and data used in this research. This work is supported by the use of (i) Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) infrastructure, which is enabled by the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) and (ii) computational resources in the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, which is funded by the Australian Government and the Government of Western Australia.


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