Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 5, 3–13, 2013
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 5, 3–13, 2013

  15 Jan 2013

15 Jan 2013

The Northern Circumpolar Soil Carbon Database: spatially distributed datasets of soil coverage and soil carbon storage in the northern permafrost regions

G. Hugelius1, C. Tarnocai2, G. Broll3, J. G. Canadell4, P. Kuhry1, and D. K. Swanson5 G. Hugelius et al.
  • 1Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2Research Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 960 Carling Ave., Ottawa, Ontario K1A0C6, Canada
  • 3Institute of Geography, University of Osnabrück, 49069 Osnabrück, Germany
  • 4Global Carbon Project, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, GPO Box 3023, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
  • 5National Park Service, Fairbanks Administrative Center, 4175 Geist Road, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709, USA

Abstract. High-latitude terrestrial ecosystems are key components in the global carbon (C) cycle. Estimates of global soil organic carbon (SOC), however, do not include updated estimates of SOC storage in permafrost-affected soils or representation of the unique pedogenic processes that affect these soils. The Northern Circumpolar Soil Carbon Database (NCSCD) was developed to quantify the SOC stocks in the circumpolar permafrost region (18.7 × 106 km2). The NCSCD is a polygon-based digital database compiled from harmonized regional soil classification maps in which data on soil order coverage have been linked to pedon data (n = 1778) from the northern permafrost regions to calculate SOC content and mass. In addition, new gridded datasets at different spatial resolutions have been generated to facilitate research applications using the NCSCD (standard raster formats for use in geographic information systems and Network Common Data Form files common for applications in numerical models). This paper describes the compilation of the NCSCD spatial framework, the soil sampling and soil analytical procedures used to derive SOC content in pedons from North America and Eurasia and the formatting of the digital files that are available online. The potential applications and limitations of the NCSCD in spatial analyses are also discussed.

The database has the doi:10.5879/ecds/00000001. An open access data portal with all the described GIS-datasets is available online at: