Heatwave and climate change having negative impact on our soil say experts

Heatwave and climate change having negative impact on our soil say experts

SOURCE: Science Daily DATE: August 2, 2018 SNIP: The recent heatwave and drought could be having a deeper, more negative effect on soil than we first realised say scientists. This could have widespread implications for plants and other vegetation which, in turn, may impact on the entire ecosystem. That’s because the organisms in soil are highly diverse and responsible not only for producing the soil we need to grow crops, but also other benefits such as cleaning water and regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The new study, led by researchers at The University of Manchester and published today (02/08/2018) in Nature Communications, provides new insight into how a drought alters soil at microbial level. It shows that expected changes in climate will affect UK soil and that soil is not as tough as previously thought. Due to climate change, disturbances such as drought are increasing in intensity and frequency. These extreme weather conditions change vegetation composition and soil moisture, which in turn impacts the soil’s underlying organisms and microbial networks. Professor Nick Ostle, from the Lancaster Environment Centre, said: “Our hot and dry summer this year is a ‘wake up’ to prepare for future weather stresses. We have just had the hottest ten years in UK history. This work shows that continued summer droughts will change soil biology. This matters as we plan for ensuring food security that depends on healthy...
UN official calls for land preservation to ensure sustainable development

UN official calls for land preservation to ensure sustainable development

SOURCE: XinhuaNet (Chinese Media is notoriously unreliable, so read with a grain of salt). DATE: December 5, 2017 SNIP: The ecosystem services that land provides will have to increase exponentially to sustain the planet, as agricultural production needs to increase by about 70 percent globally to feed the expected population of 9 billion in 2050. That would mean finding an estimated 6 million hectares of land for agricultural production annually and twice the amount of water by 2050. The painful fact is that soil degradation is increasing rapidly in spite of fast growing demand, with a quarter of the world’s land highly degraded…more than half of all agricultural land has already degraded. The problem could lead to the loss of two thirds of all arable land by 2025, plunging millions of farmers into poverty and igniting conflicts and migration, according to the...
Carbon emissions from warming soils could trigger disastrous feedback loop

Carbon emissions from warming soils could trigger disastrous feedback loop

SOURCE: The Guardian and Washington Post DATE: October 5, 2017 SNIP: Warming soils are releasing more carbon into the atmosphere than previously thought, suggesting a potentially disastrous feedback mechanism whereby increases in global temperatures will trigger massive new carbon releases in a cycle that may be impossible to break. The increased production of carbon comes from the microbes within soils, according to a report in the peer-review journal Science, published on Friday. The 26-year study is one of the biggest of its kind, and is a groundbreaking addition to our scant knowledge of exactly how warming will affect natural systems. Potential feedback loops, or tipping points, have long been suspected to exist by scientists, and there is some evidence for them in the geological record. What appears to happen is that once warming reaches a certain point, these natural biological factors kick in and can lead to a runaway, and potentially unstoppable, increase in...
How frozen farmers’ fields are an unexpected culprit in climate change, according to a new study

How frozen farmers’ fields are an unexpected culprit in climate change, according to a new study

SOURCE: National Post DATE: April 11, 2017 SNIP: Across Canada, the last of the snow and ice is melting away from a vast expanse of farmers’ fields, making way for the planting of this year’s crops. And — suggests a new Canadian study — making an unexpectedly large contribution to greenhouse gases and climate change. Strange as it might seem, the thawing of frozen cropland burps nitrous oxide into the atmosphere at rates far greater than previously thought, meaning agriculture’s role in producing the greenhouse gas has been greatly underestimated, according to research from the Universities of Guelph and Manitoba. Nitrous oxide — commonly known as laughing gas and used as a dental anesthetic — accounts for well under 10 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. But it’s almost 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping energy, the greenhouse effect believed to be warming the...
Soils could release much more carbon than expected as climate warms

Soils could release much more carbon than expected as climate warms

SOURCE: Phys.org DATE: March 9, 2017 SNIP: Soils could release much more CO2 than expected into the atmosphere as the climate warms, according to new research by scientists from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Their findings are based on a field experiment that, for the first time, explored what happens to organic carbon trapped in soil when all soil layers are warmed, which in this case extend to a depth of 100 centimeters. The scientists discovered that warming both the surface and deeper soil layers at three experimental plots increased the plots’ annual release of CO2 by 34 to 37 percent over non-warmed soil. Much of the CO2 originated from deeper layers, indicating that deeper stores of carbon are more sensitive to warming than previously thought. Experts estimate soils below 20 centimeters in depth contain more than 50 percent of the planet’s stock of soil organic carbon. The big questions have been: to what extent do the deeper soil layers respond to warming? And what does this mean for the release of CO2 into the atmosphere? “We found the response is quite significant,” says Caitlin Hicks Pries, a postdoctoral researcher in Berkeley Lab’s Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division. She conducted the research with co-corresponding author Margaret Torn, and Christina Castahna and Rachel Porras, who are also Berkeley Lab scientists. “If our findings are applied to soils around the globe that are similar to what we studied, meaning soils that are not frozen or saturated, our calculations suggest that by 2100 the warming of deeper soil layers could cause a release of carbon to the...