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Carbon Estimation

by mhowell last modified 2007-03-09 10:14

Forest floor

Forest floor, the soil scientist's O horizon, is comprised of the organic matter accumulating on the soil surface.  Sampling this material is generally straight forward, requiring only that the area of the sample is known and that the forest floor is seperated from the mineral soil in a consistent manner. 

Round metal coring devices or wood or plastic frames are often utilized.  Cores can be pushed through the forest floor while frames serve as guides for cutting with a serrated knife. 

Separation between forest floor and mineral soil can be difficult and is often subjective.  Consistency is the critical objective.  Sampling mineral soil below the area of forest floor removal also help minimize double counting of carbon contents.

The oven dry mass of the forest floor sample can be used to estimate contents of organic matter on an area basis.  Approximately half of this material is carbon.  Corrections for mineral contamination may be required and is typically achieved through ashing or combustion of subsamples.