A global budget for fine root biomass, surface area, and nutrient contents
Authors: Jackson, RB, HA Mooney, E-D Schulze
Global biogeochemical models have improved dramatically in the last decade in their representation of the biosphere. Although leaf area data are an important input to such models and are readily available globally, global root distributions for modeling water and nutrient uptake and carbon cycling have not been available. This analysis provides global distributions for fine root biomass, length, and surface area with depth in the soil, and global estimates of nutrient pools in fine roots. Calculated root surface area is almost always greater than leaf area, more than an order of magnitude so in grasslands. The average C:N:P ratio in living fine roots is 450:11:1 and global fine root carbon is more than 5% of all carbon contained in the atmosphere. Assuming conservatively that fine roots turn over once per year, they represent 33% of global annual net primary productivity.