Cancelled Carbon Storage and Biological Interactions in Soils

Course content

The course teaches fundamental processes, concepts and mechanisms that determine Carbon Storage in Soils with a special emphasize on the role of interactions between plants, microorganisms and minerals within soils. Furthermore, state-of-the art principles and methodologies interfacing soil science and the field of isotope geochemistry that help to elucidate soil organic matter cycling are taught. Thus, the course emphasizes the connection between fundamental processes in soils (C, N cycling), vegetation and application of stable isotope techniques to unravel the link between terrestrial processes and atmosphere.

Accordingly, the course focuses on modern concepts of soil biogeochemical functioning and explains advanced state-of-the art experimental and technical approaches to unravel soil processes to understand soil functions in natural and managed soils. Besides the teaching of fundamental soil process understanding, the course has a particular focus on application of analytical methods that are used to elucidate geochemical and biological processes in terrestrial systems as a mean to establish knowledge on the interaction between physical, biological and chemical environmental constraints and processes, and human activity.

The course includes practical exercises with soil analysis.


MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics
MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics with a minor subject

Learning outcome


  • Conceptual understanding of soil carbon storage and its partitioning into different soil organic matter pools
  • Conceptual and process understanding of biological soil interactions that foster soil organic matter cycling and Carbon storage
  • Linking soil physical structure to plant and microbial activity
  • Understanding the cycling of Carbon and Nitrogen in soils (C and N-cycles; stocks; atmosphere)
  • Methods to determine different soil C and N storage as well as soil organic matter fractions
  • Analytical methods to study soil processes in-situ in the rhizosphere and detritusphere
  • Familiarize with terminology, notations and analysis used in stable isotope work
  • Understanding concepts of isotope fractionation and mixing models
  • Application of stable isotope analysis of soil organic matter to study turnover



  • Identify and apply methods to determine different C and N pools in soils
  • Identify and apply methods to elucidate biological processes involved in soil organic matter cycling
  • Apply methods to determine C and N in differently stabilized soil fractions and calculate C and N distribution and stocks
  • Apply correct scientific terms and definitions
  • Apply and solve algebraic equations involving isotopic two- and three-end member mixing models
  • Identify and describe key processes that can be investigated by isotope techniques.



  • Formulate proposals to identify the qualitative and quantitative nature of complex plant-soil and microorganism-soil interactions that foster soil carbon storage
  • Evaluate and discuss demands and prerequisites for accurate isotopic analysis in various sample materials
  • Evaluate and discuss experimental and analytical approaches to study soils as a complex multi-dimensional system
  • Evaluate, discuss and explain scientific publications to fellow students and scientists

The form of teaching is a combination of practical (laboratory) and theoretical exercises, mixed with ad hoc lectures. We will also read, present and discuss scientific literature. For the teaching plan, please see Absalon.

Please see Absalon.

BSc in Geography and Geoinformatics or equivalent is recommended

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)

Tha course has substantial practical content, and feedback is given orally during the course based on the performance of students during the practical field- and laboratory activities.

An oral feedback is given in response to the written assignement.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, During course
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Type of assessment details
The written assignment is prepared during the course and must be handed in prior to the exam week. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. The oral exam is without preparation and includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list. A combined grade is given after the oral exam.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.

Resubmission of written assignment, handed in prior to the re-examination week.

Twenty minutes oral examination without preperation. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It includes the approved reading list. A combined grade is given after the oral exam.

Criteria for exam assessment

Please see learning outcomes

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 14
  • Preparation
  • 171
  • Theory exercises
  • 15
  • Laboratory
  • 6
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 4
25 students
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board of Geosciences and Management
Contracting department
  • Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinators
  • Carsten W. Müller   (2-656f426b6970306d7730666d)
  • Per Lennart Ambus   (4-74696571446d6b72326f7932686f)

Per Lennart Ambus
Invited lectures ad-hoc

Saved on the 01-11-2023

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