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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: data description paper 25 Oct 2019

Submitted as: data description paper | 25 Oct 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).

Decomposability of soil organic matter over time: The Soil Incubation Database (SIDb, version 1.0) and guidance for incubation procedures

Christina Schädel1, Jeffrey Beem-Miller2, Mina Aziz Rad2, Susan E. Crow3, Caitlin Hicks Pries4, Jessica Ernakovich5, Alison M. Hoyt2,6, Alain Plante7, Shane Stoner2, Claire C. Treat8, and Carlos A. Sierra2 Christina Schädel et al.
  • 1Center of Ecosystem Science and Society, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
  • 2Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Hans-Knöll-Str 10, 07745, Jena, Germany
  • 3Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, University of Hawaii, Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
  • 4Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, USA
  • 5Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA
  • 6Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California, USA
  • 7Department of Earth & Environmental Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
  • 8Earth Systems Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans & Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, 03824, USA

Abstract. The magnitude of carbon (C) loss to the atmosphere via microbial decomposition is a function of the amount of C stored in soils, the quality of the organic matter, and physical, chemical and biological factors that comprise the environment for decomposition. The decomposability of C is commonly assessed by laboratory soil incubation studies that measure greenhouse gases mineralized from soils under controlled conditions. Here, we introduce the Soil Incubation Database (SIDb) version 1.0, a compilation of time series data from incubations, structured into a new, publicly available database of C flux (carbon dioxide, CO2, or methane, CH4). In addition to open access, the SIDb project also provides a platform for the development of tools for reading and analysis of incubation data as well as documentation for future use and development. In addition to introducing SIDb, we provide reporting guidance for database entry and the required variables that incubation studies need at minimum to be included in SIDb. A key application of this synthesis effort is to better characterize soil C processes in Earth system models, which will in turn reduce our uncertainty in predicting the response of soil C decomposition to a changing climate. We demonstrate a framework to fit curves to a number of incubation studies from diverse ecosystems, depths, and organic matter content using a built-in model development module that integrates SIDb with the existing SoilR package to estimate soil C pools from time series data. The database will help bridge the gap between site-level measurements, which are commonly used in incubation studies, and global remote-sensed data or data products derived from models aimed at assessing global-scale rates of decomposition and C turnover. The SIDb, version 1.0, is archived and publicly available at DOI: (Sierra et al., 2019) and the database is managed under a version-controlled system and centrally stored in GitHub (

Christina Schädel et al.
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Status: open (until 19 Jan 2020)
Status: open (until 19 Jan 2020)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Christina Schädel et al.
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