ASOCseq: Carbon sequestration potential of Austrian soils.


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is working on a map (GSOCseq) for the global representation of the ability of soils to sequester organic carbon (carbon sequestration). A uniform method was used for this purpose, although only very coarse grids were available for terrain and climate. In the ASOCseq project, the national map was improved by using high-resolution data sets and integrated into the global map (GSOCseq).

Project description

The maps for the representation of the sequestration potential of soils on which FAO is working are based on relatively simple models and climate data with low spatial resolution. It is to be expected that the data thus generated for Austria will be too imprecise and therefore cannot be used meaningfully in practice. The lack of precision could also lead to erroneous interpretations in EU-wide discussions on climate-related measures.

Austria had the opportunity to determine more precise data itself and provide it to FAO for consideration in the map. It is assumed that this map will subsequently be used in the EU in discussions on carbon farming, greenhouse gas balances and the evaluation of measures. In this respect, it makes sense to provide data for Austria that are as precise as possible. Furthermore, these data can be used for national action plans.

The individual national maps were mainly produced using the computer software "R", whereby detailed national data were used for Austria in addition to the soil and climate data provided by the FAO. The consideration of these data led to a significant improvement of the results.


The Austrian Soil Organic Carbon (ASOC) map was used as the starting point for the model of soil carbon stocks (SOC stocks). Based on the calculations, 50% of the carbon stocks in Austria at time t0 were between 39 and 101 tC/ha. Using the detailed Austrian data (climate data, ASOC map) resulted in a slightly lower range (39 - 96 tC/ha). Four different scenarios (Business as Usual (BAU) and three different management scenarios - plus 5%, 10% and 20% carbon input) were generated for the projections of soil carbon in 2038 and 2040, respectively.

In each case, the modeling based on the detailed Austrian data resulted in the smallest increases. Overall, there are only very minor differences between the individual scenarios. The evaluation of the results on a regional level allows a basic interpretation of the potential for carbon sequestration in the soil based on soil and climatic conditions. It can be used as a basis for estimating the potential impact of measures that either stabilize or increase humus content.

The results of the FAO method showed that the modeled carbon stocks for the four scenarios did not differ significantly - they all ranged from 43 to 108 tC/ha. Modeling based on detailed Austrian data yielded lower values, ranging from 43 to 74 74 tC/ha. However, clear region-specific differences were evident.

Benefit of the project

The evaluation of the results at the regional level allows a basic interpretation of the sequestration potential based on soil and climatic conditions and can be used as a basis for estimating the potential impact of measures that either stabilize or increase humus content.

The national results were submitted to FAO for their integration into the global GSOCseq map.

Project details

Project acronym: ASOCseq

Project management: AGES, Dr. Andreas Baumgarten, Institute for Sustainable Plant Production

Project partners: Institute of Meterology (BOKU-Met), Federal Office for Forests (BFW)

Funding: Funding program BMLRT (BMNT, BMLFUW) - DAFNE

Projektlaufzeit: 08/2021-03/2022

Last updated: 13.04.2023

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