Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

Can N2O emissions offset the benefits from soil organic carbon storage?

Bertrand Guenet 1 Benoit Gabrielle 2 Claire Chenu 2 Dominique Arrouays 3 Jérôme Balesdent 4 Martial Bernoux 5 Elisa Bruni 1 Jean-Pierre Caliman 6 Rémi Cardinael 7, 8, 9 Songchao Chen 3 Philippe Ciais 1 Dominique Desbois 10 Julien Fouché 11 Stefan Frank 12 Catherine Henault 13 Emanuele Lugato 14 Victoria Naipal 1 Thomas Nesme 15 Michael Obersteiner 12 Sylvain Pellerin 15 David Powlson 16 Daniel Rasse 17 Frédéric Rees 2 Jean-François Soussana 18 Yang Su 2 Hanqin Tian 19 Hugo Valin 12 Feng Zhou 20
Abstract : To respect the Paris agreement targeting a limitation of global warming below 2°C by 2100, and possibly below 1.5°C, drastic reductions of greenhouse gas emissions are mandatory but not sufficient. Large‐scale deployment of other climate mitigation strategies are also necessary. Among these, increasing soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks is an important lever because carbon in soils can be stored for long periods and land management options to achieve this already exist and have been widely tested. However, agricultural soils are also an important source of nitrous oxide (N2O), a powerful greenhouse gas, and increasing SOC may influence N2O emissions, likely causing an increase in many cases, thus tending to offset the climate change benefit from increased SOC storage. Here, we review the main agricultural management options for increasing SOC stocks. We evaluate the amount of SOC that can be stored as well as resulting changes in N2O emissions to better estimate the climate benefits of these management options. Based on quantitative data obtained from published meta‐analyses and from our current level of understanding, we conclude that the climate mitigation induced by increased SOC storage is generally overestimated if associated N2O emissions are not considered but, with the exception of reduced tillage, is never fully offset. Some options (e.g, biochar or non‐pyrogenic C amendment application) may even decrease N2O emissions.
Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Frédéric Rees <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, October 6, 2020 - 8:32:21 AM
Last modification on : Friday, April 9, 2021 - 5:10:02 PM



Bertrand Guenet, Benoit Gabrielle, Claire Chenu, Dominique Arrouays, Jérôme Balesdent, et al.. Can N2O emissions offset the benefits from soil organic carbon storage?. Global Change Biology, Wiley, 2021, 27 (2), pp.237-256. ⟨10.1111/gcb.15342⟩. ⟨hal-02958540⟩



Record views