Rescue Earth System

GIS Carbon Mapping

The GSOCmap, a stepping stone in our knowledge of soils and how we can use soils to store carbon and help mitigate climate change.

GIS Soil Carbon Mapping

Global Soil Organic Carbon Map (GSOCmap)

The Global Soil Organic Carbon Map (GSOCmap) is not just a map! It is also a consultative and participatory process involving 110 countries, which makes this map totally new and unique!

The GSOCmap provides users with very useful information to monitor the soil condition, identify degraded areas, set restoration targets, explore SOC sequestration potentials, support the greenhouse gas emission reporting under the UNFCCC and make evidence based decisions to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate.

The Global Soil Organic Carbon map V1.5 is an important stepping stone to better know the current Soil Organic Carbon stock stored beneath our feet and soils’ potential for further sequestration.

A good example of an undisturbed forest soil profile. One can clearly see the O, A and B horizons.

National soil carbon mapping around the globe, a country-driven process

The Global Soil Partnership, its Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) launched a global endeavor to develop a Global Soil Organic Carbon map (GSOCMap) by the end of 2017, in support of the Sustainable Development Goal Indicator 15.3.1. The quality of soil carbon information at global level is still limited because much existing national information has not yet been shared.

A precise and reliable global view on soil organic carbon (SOC) is needed under different UN conventions, such as the UN Convention on Climate Change and Desertification (UNCCD), but especially as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). At national level, such data can be used as reference soil carbon stocks, with the aim to refine national greenhouse gas inventories, and to assess the sensitivity of soils to degradation and climate change.

The global soil carbon map consists of national SOC maps, developed as 1 km soil grids, covering a depth of 0-30 cm. A generic GSOC mapping guideline has been developed, which provides definitions and methodological options. The formulae to calculate national soil carbon stocks follow the good practice guidance by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2006). Digital soil mapping is recommended for the spatial mapping of soil properties (see Pillar 4 Implementation Plan); This includes the national SOC maps. 

A contrast between a ploughed area on the left and a nature reserve on the right.

GSOC mapping Guideline

The GSOC mapping guideline contains definitions which are intended to ensure that national maps become comparable globally. GSOC map is the first global soil property map, produced among a series of other soil properties according to GSP Pillar 4, which will follow in the mid-term future.

In order to develop technical support, a cookbook for soil carbon mapping was produced. This cookbook is also used for workshops and e-learning.

GSOC mapping programme

The global soil carbon mapping programme was initiated during the preparations of the second meeting of the International Network of Soil Information Institutions (INSII), 24 and 24 December 2016, and discussed there in detail. In front of that meeting, a special technical session about soil carbon mapping was held 23 November 2016. During this session, the mapping specifications and the detailed methodologies were discussed, and examples of national SOC maps presented. Since these meetings, GSP partners have shared details about their mapping approaches and the national contact partners. An intermediate progress assessment of GSOCmap was presented during GSOC17 (link to the presentation). Developing the GSOCmap has been a challenge which required intensive collaboration among soil information institutions globally. Besides guideline and cookbook, various specific training events support GSP partners to engage in the GSOCmap programme.

Global soil carbon: understanding and managingthe largest terrestrial carbon pool
Measuring soil carbon change
Soil carbon 4 per mille
Global distribution of soil organic carbon (SOC)
Predictive Soil Mapping
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