An open source database for the synthesis of soil radiocarbon data: ISRaD version 1.0

Earth System Science Data
By: , and 



Radiocarbon is a critical constraint on our estimates of the timescales of soil carbon cycling that can aid in identifying mechanisms of carbon stabilization and destabilization and improve the forecast of soil carbon response to management or environmental change. Despite the wealth of soil radiocarbon data that have been reported over the past 75 years, the ability to apply these data to global-scale questions is limited by our capacity to synthesize and compare measurements generated using a variety of methods. Here, we present the International Soil Radiocarbon Database (ISRaD;, last access: 16 December 2019), an open-source archive of soil data that include reported measurements from bulk soils, distinct soil carbon pools isolated in the laboratory by a variety of soil fractionation methods, samples of soil gas or water collected interstitially from within an intact soil profile, CO2 gas isolated from laboratory soil incubations, and fluxes collected in situ from a soil profile. The core of ISRaD is a relational database structured around individual datasets (entries) and organized hierarchically to report soil radiocarbon data, measured at different physical and temporal scales as well as other soil or environmental properties that may also be measured and may assist with interpretation and context. Anyone may contribute their own data to the database by entering it into the ISRaD template and subjecting it to quality assurance protocols. ISRaD can be accessed through (1) a web-based interface, (2) an R package (ISRaD), or (3) direct access to code and data through the GitHub repository, which hosts both code and data. The design of ISRaD allows for participants to become directly involved in the management, design, and application of ISRaD data. The synthesized dataset is available in two forms: the original data as reported by the authors of the datasets and an enhanced dataset that includes ancillary geospatial data calculated within the ISRaD framework. ISRaD also provides data management tools in the ISRaD-R package that provide a starting point for data analysis; as an open-source project, the broader soil community is invited and encouraged to add data, tools, and ideas for improvement. As a whole, ISRaD provides resources to aid our evaluation of soil dynamics across a range of spatial and temporal scales. The ISRaD v1.0 dataset is archived and freely available at (Lawrence et al., 2019).

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title An open source database for the synthesis of soil radiocarbon data: ISRaD version 1.0
Series title Earth System Science Data
DOI 10.5194/essd-12-61-2020
Volume 12
Issue 1
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Copernicus Publications
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis
Description 16 p.
First page 61
Last page 76
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