The importance of biocrusts in the ecology of arid lands across all continents is widely recognized. In spite of this broad distribution, contributions of biocrusts to the global biogeochemical cycles have only recently been considered. While these studies opened a new view on the global role of biocrusts, they also clearly revealed the lack of data for many habitats and of overall standards for measurements and analysis. In order to understand carbon cycling in biocrusts and the progress which has been made during the last 15 years, we offer a multi-scale approach covering different climatic regions. We also include a discussion on available measurement techniques at each scale: A micro-scale section focuses on the individual organism level, including modeling based on the combination of field and lab data. The meso-scale section addresses the CO2 exchange of a complete ecosystem or at the community level. Finally, we consider the contribution of biocrusts at a global scale, giving a general perspective of the most relevant findings regarding the role of biological soil crusts in the global terrestrial carbon cycle.