Carbon Sequestration in the Drake Prairie
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While land use alterations currently result in the addition of about 2 gigatons of carbon to the atmosphere annually, changes in bioproductivity and soil storage have the potential to serve as an important managed sink as well. Reforestation and afforestation have received the most attention in this regard, but native grasslands, with high short-term production of belowground biomass, may also provide significant sequestration opportunities when compared with agricultural systems and managed turfgrass, although this claim is controversial in the literature. In order to determine whether significant differences in soil carbon content could be observed between a historical turfgrass and restored prairie system, we measured soil carbon levels at sixteen sites in and around Drake’s restored prairie fragment north of Meredith Hall. Soil samples were taken in roughly 15 cm increments to a depth of one meter (where possible), and carbon content was determined through destructive heating.
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