A study was conducted to assess the soil carbon distribution in cold desert high altitude region of Ladakh in India at different altitudes and their correlation patterns with the altitude. The role of carbon dynamics in the exchange of CO2 between the terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere has important implications in this study of global climate change. The present study was done in Ladakh region of India from where soil samples were collected on the basis of different altitudes range and thereafter samples were analyzed for organic carbon and calcium carbonate content. Results of our study show that the soil organic carbon (SOC) content and storage increased significantly with the increase in the altitude where as when compared with the altitude of 10000 ft amsl, soil inorganic carbon (SIC content and its storage decreased significantly (P< 0.05) at an altitude of 11000 ft up to 12000 ft amsl. The SOC content and storage were observed positively (P<0.01) correlated with altitude, while soil inorganic carbon storage and contents were negatively (P<0.05) correlated with altitude. Hence, our study indicates that very harsh and unique climatic conditions in Ladakh influences storage and distribution pattern of soil carbon along the altitudes or elevation gradients. So investigations along altitude gradients is a useful approach to the study of environmental change and its effect on the soil processes, which can complement data obtained from controlled, large scale field studies as well as other practical and theoretical approaches to climate change research.
Key words: Cold desert, high altitude, carbon distribution pattern, altitudinal variation, soil carbon, micro-climate.
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