The global soil C reservoir, ∼1500 Gt of C (1 Gt = 1012 kg of C), is dynamic on decadal time scales and is sensitive to climate and human disturbance. At present, as a result of land use, soil C is a source of atmospheric CO in the tropics and possibly part of a sink in northern latitudes. Here I review the processes responsible for maintaining the global soil C reservoir and what is known about how it responds to direct and indirect human perturbations.

“I am fire and air; my other elements I give to baser life”

     —William Shakespeare,


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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