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Through PedoNews on Pedosphere.com, we are bringing forward, addressing and soliciting scientific knowledge on 'Global Soil Science Issues'. Currently, there are 20 news items in this series. Each page holds 10 items. Navigation hyperlinks are presented below.

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NewsID/Date News, Links & Resources
No.1 posted on Sep 7, 2012 Securing a future for soil science: A white paper (2011)

In their revised white paper dated March 25, 2011 entitled "Securing a future for soil science  A white paper", Dani et al. have redefined the disciplinary context of Soil Science as follows:
 
"The evolving and broader context of soil science is derived from an array of functions and critical services provided by soils that include and transcend food production:

  • Soil is the planet's life support system, functioning as Earth's life support a thin layer of life covering much of the terrestrial surface;
     
  • Soil is the most biologically active element of the biosphere, hosting the largest pool of biodiversity of all biospheres;
     
  • Soil is a functioning complex natural body with unique characteristics and emergent behaviors that cannot be deduced from a collection of its constituents or individual processes; soil integrates Earth processes in which it is intrinsically linked;
     
  • Soil is a giant recycling system, providing food, feed, fiber, and, increasingly, energy production through biofuels;
     
  • Soil supports global biogeochemical cycles (C, N, P and S), representing the Earth's largest terrestrial stock of organic carbon;
     
  • Soil provides important ecosystem services (e.g., provisions of fresh and clean water) essential for human needs, including drinking water and food, carbon storage, and flood regulation; and
     
  • Soil preserves the sedimentary record upon which human history is imprinted."

In June 1998, I attended the Earth System Science Education Workshop which was held at the University of Michigan. I came across a curriculum review document titled 'Shaping the Future of Undergraduate Earth Science Education' produced by the auspices of the American Geophysical Union. The following sentence caught my eye:
 
'The study of the connections and the interactions between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, solid earth and near space is emerging as the foundation of Earth System Science'.
 
As a Soil Scientist, I do know that the greatest interaction between organisms, water, air and minerals occurs in soil, the skin of the Earth. I was really amazed not to see an explicit mention of soil in this definition. Since that time, my goal has been to assert one extra world in their definition so that it would read as follows:
 
'The study of the connections and the interactions between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, solid earth, pedosphere and near space is emerging as the foundation of Earth System Science'.
 
Soils and Soil Science can be repositioned under the umbrella of the pedosphere. The vast scope of the discipline of Soil Science described by Dani et al. (2011) above can be fitted using the concept of the pedosphere which would enable Soil Science to find its proper position in the knowledge sphere of Earth System Science.


Keywords: New Global Carbon Atlas, Earth System Science, Soil Science education,  atmosphere,  hydrosphere,  biosphere, cryosphere, solid earth,  pedosphere,  ESSE 
No.2 posted on Jan 31, 2013 FAO:AG:Conservation agriculture (2012)

FAO is promoting Conservation Agriculture (CA) across the world. According to their website, Conservation Agriculture is an approach to managing agro-ecosystems for improved and sustained productivity, increased profits and food security while preserving and enhancing the resource base and the environment. CA is characterized by three linked principles, namely:

  1. Continuous minimum mechanical soil disturbance.
  2. Permanent organic soil cover.
  3. Diversification of crop species grown in sequences and/or associations.

Here is a link to to the FAO website: FAO:AG:Conservation agriculture


Keywords: conservation tillage, permanent organic soil cover, crop diversification,  soil conservation,  agro-ecosystems,  sustainable agriculture, food security, soil quality,  weed control,  water use efficiency 
No.3 posted on Nov 25, 2013 The Global Inventory of Long-Term Soil-Ecosystem Experiments (2004)

The Global Inventory of Long-Term Soil-Ecosystem Experiments (LTSEs) was initiated under the leadership of Dan Richter, Mike Hofmockel, Mac Callaham, David Powlson, & Pete Smith (Duke Univ, USDA Forest Service, Rothamsted Research, & Univ Aberdeen, respectively) in 2004. This global inventory has grown to nearly 250 studies, and they are now beginning to sample soils (0 to 1-m) in 30 to 40 LTSEs in the first coordinated sampling of these invaluable studies. They are seeking individual scientists, science administrators, land managers, students, institutions & the general public to help build this new scientific project.

Here is a link to to their website: Global Inventory of Long-Term Soil-Ecosystem Experiments


Keywords: Long-term soil experiments, soil organic matter, soil carbon and nitrogen,  LTSE,  soil conservation,  agro-ecosystems, sustainable agriculture, similation modelling,  soil quality,  greenhouse gases 
No.4 posted on Nov 27, 2013 New Global Carbon Atlas (2013)

The United States Carbon Cycle Science Program published Global Carbon Budget 2013 and new Global Carbon Atlas on November 13, 2013. Here is the description of the contents as described on their website:

"Today, the Global Carbon Project released the Global Carbon Budget 2013 and the new Global Carbon Atlas, an online interactive platform with distinctive tools to deliver carbon information to i) educators and the broader public, ii) policy makers, NGOs, and the broad corporate community involved in climate change discussions, and iii) the research community. Here is an excerpt describing the Atlas, from the Future Earth website: 'The new site invites visitors to explore, display and download data and figures on carbon dioxide emissions from all sources, cut any way they choose. You can visualise changes over recent decades, and investigate global, regional and national comparisons. As well as the emissions data displays, there is an outreach section which offers past and future views of carbon emissions and human development, and a researchers' section, which will include global and regional results from several different carbon cycle models.'

The U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program Office is an affiliate office of the Global Carbon Project. Gyami Shrestha from the U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program Office serves as a member of the Editorial Board of the Global Carbon Atlas."

Source: Available HTTP: http://www.carboncyclescience.gov/GlobalCarbonAtlas-GlobalCarbonBudget-2013 [Nov. 27, 2013]

Here is a link to the new Global Carbon Atlas:
Global Carbon Atlas


Keywords: CO2 emissions, global CO2 estimates,  regional CO2 estimates,  national CO2 estimates,  past and future CO2 emissions,  source of CO2 emissions, data visualization, data sets,  simulations,  global carbon budget 
No.5 posted on Nov 27, 2013 The global nitrogen cycle in the 21st century (2013)

The Royal Society has published The global nitrogen cycle in the 21st century: Issue compiled and edited by David Fowler, John A. Pyle, John A. Raven and Mark A. Sutton. This issue is based on a discussion meeting held at the Royal Society 5-6 Dec 2011 and was published in May 2013.

"This volume of 14 papers provides a summary of current understanding of the global nitrogen cycle and the likely changes through the 21st century. The papers include a global overview, and individual papers devoted to component parts of the Earth, eg nitrogen cycling in the oceans, in terrestrial ecosystems and in the atmosphere. There are also papers focussing on specific processes, including the natural fixation of atmospheric nitrogen by bacteria, the release of nitric oxide and nitrous oxide from soils, the release of ammonia to the atmosphere from crops and soil and the coupling between terrestrial nitrogen and carbon cycles."

Available HTTP: http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/site/2013/global_nitrogen_cycle.xhtml [Nov. 25, 2013]

Here is a link to their website: The global nitrogen cycle in the 21st century

Here is a link to the table of contents of the issue:
The global nitrogen cycle in the 21st century: Table of Contents


Keywords: global nitrogen cycle, oceans, terrestrial ecosytems,  atmosphere,  nitrous oxide,  nitrogen fixation, nitrification, denitrification,  nitric oxide,  ammonia 
No.6 posted on Dec 4, 2013 The global nitrogen cycle in the twenty first century: introduction (2013)

Here is an excerpt and a link to free full-text access PDF of the article published by the Royal Society titled The global nitrogen cycle in the twenty first century: introduction' by David Fowler, John A. Pyle, John A. Raven and Mark A. Sutton. Source: Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 2013 368, 20130165, published 27 May 2013.

"In choosing the scope and approach, the intention was twofold: to describe the processes within terrestrial and marine ecosystems and in the atmosphere responsible for transforming Nr within the major reservoirs, and transferring the compounds through the Earth system. The second objective was to quantify the fluxes into and between the reservoirs. The majority of the papers are independent of each other, written by different academic communities and often using different approaches. Some contributions are derived entirely from modelling activities, while others are largely derived from measurements and the synthesis of field data. The variability in approach and underpinning data and the geographical scales involved in each contribution covers a broad range. Thus, there are differences in the magnitudes of estimated fluxes and their uncertainties within the presented papers."

Source: Available HTTP: http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/368/1621/20130165.full [Nov. 25, 2013]

Here is a link to free full-text PDF from the Royal Society website:
The global nitrogen cycle in the twenty-first century: introduction


Keywords: global nitrogen cycle, oceans, terrestrial ecosystems,  atmosphere,  21st century,  nitrification , denitrification, nitric oxide, nitrous oxide, nitrogen fixation,  nitrogen deposition, ammonia,  coupling carbon and nitrogen cycles 
No.7 posted on Dec 4, 2013 A chronology of human understanding of the nitrogen cycle (2013)

Here is an abstract of the article published by the Royal Society titled 'A chronology of human understanding of the nitrogen cycle' by James N. Galloway, Allison M. Leach, Albert Bleeker and Jan Willem Erisman. Source: Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 2013 368, 20130120, published 27 May 2013.

"Nitrogen over the ages! It was discovered in the eighteenth century. The following century, its importance in agriculture was documented and the basic components of its cycle were elucidated. In the twentieth century, a process to provide an inexhaustible supply of reactive N (Nr; all N species except N2) for agricultural, industrial and military uses was invented. This discovery and the extensive burning of fossil fuels meant that by the beginning of the twenty-first century, anthropogenic sources of newly created Nr were two to three times that of natural terrestrial sources. This caused a fundamental change in the nitrogen cycle; for the first time, there was the potential for enough food to sustain growing populations and changing dietary patterns. However, most Nr created by humans is lost to the environment, resulting in a cascade of negative earth systems impacts including enhanced acid rain, smog, eutrophication, greenhouse effect and stratospheric ozone depletion, with associated impacts on human and ecosystem health. The impacts continue and will be magnified, as Nr is lost to the environment at an even greater rate. Thus, the challenge for the current century is how to optimize the uses of N while minimizing the negative impacts."

Source: Available HTTP: http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/368/1621/20130120.abstract [Nov. 25, 2013]


Keywords: reactive nitrogen (Nr), cascade, history,  Haber-Bosch,  negative earth systems impacts ,  anthropogenic sources of reactive nitrogen, eutrophication, optimize N use efficiency,  greenhouse gas effect,  stratospheric ozone depletion 
No.8 posted on Dec 4, 2013 Biological nitrogen fixation: rates, patterns and ecological controls in terrestrial ecosystems (2013)

Here is an abstract and a link to free full-text access PDF of the article published by the Royal Society titled 'Biological nitrogen fixation: rates, patterns and ecological controls in terrestrial ecosystems' by James N. Galloway, Allison M. Leach, Albert Bleeker and Jan Willem Erisman. Source: Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 2013 368, 20130120, published 27 May 2013.

"New techniques have identified a wide range of organisms with the capacity to carry out biological nitrogen fixation (BNF)greatly expanding our appreciation of the diversity and ubiquity of N fixers but our understanding of the rates and controls of BNF at ecosystem and global scales has not advanced at the same pace. Nevertheless, determining rates and controls of BNF is crucial to placing anthropogenic changes to the N cycle in context, and to understanding, predicting and managing many aspects of global environmental change. Here, we estimate terrestrial BNF for a pre-industrial world by combining information on N fluxes with 15N relative abundance data for terrestrial ecosystems. Our estimate is that pre-industrial N fixation was 58 (range of 40-100) Tg N fixed yr1; adding conservative assumptions for geological N reduces our best estimate to 44 Tg N yr1. This approach yields substantially lower estimates than most recent calculations; it suggests that the magnitude of human alternation of the N cycle is substantially larger than has been assumed."

Source: Available HTTP: http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/368/1621/20130119.abstract [Nov. 25, 2013]


Keywords: biogeochemistry, biological nitrogen fixation (BNF), nitrogen cycle,  ubiquity of N fixers ,  diversity of N fixers,  rates and controls of BNF , BNF estimates, human alternation of N cycle,  global environmental change,  BNF global scale 
No.9 posted on Dec 4, 2013 Processes regulating nitric oxide emissions from soils (2013)

Here is an abstract of the article published by the Royal Society titled 'Processes regulating nitric oxide emissions from soils' by Kim Pilegaard. Source: Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 2013 368, 20130126, published 27 May 2013

"Nitric oxide (NO) is a reactive gas that plays an important role in atmospheric chemistry by influencing the production and destruction of ozone and thereby the oxidizing capacity of the atmosphere. NO also contributes by its oxidation products to the formation of acid rain. The major sources of NO in the atmosphere are anthropogenic emissions (from combustion of fossil fuels) and biogenic emission from soils. NO is both produced and consumed in soils as a result of biotic and abiotic processes. The main processes involved are microbial nitrification and denitrification, and chemodenitrification. Thus, the net result is complex and dependent on several factors such as nitrogen availability, organic matter content, oxygen status, soil moisture, pH and temperature. This paper reviews recent knowledge on processes forming NO in soils and the factors controlling its emission to the atmosphere. Schemes for simulating these processes are described, and the results are discussed with the purpose of scaling up to global emission."

Source: Available HTTP: http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/368/1621/20130126.abstract [Nov. 25, 2013]


Keywords: nitric oxide (NO), emission, soil,  atmospheric chemistry,  production and destruction of ozone,  acid rain, nitric oxide oxidation, nitric oxide production and consumption,  nitric oxide soil emissions,  scaling up to global emissions 
No.10 posted on Dec 4, 2013 Processes Nitrous oxide emissions from soils: how well do we understand the processes and their controls? (2013)

Here is an abstract and a link to open access, full-text access PDF of the article published by the Royal Society titled 'Processes Nitrous oxide emissions from soils: how well do we understand the processes and their controls?' by Klaus Butterbach-Bahl, Elizabeth M. Baggs, Michael Dannenmann, Ralf Kiese and Sophie Zechmeister-Boltenstern. Source: Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 2013 368, 20130122, published 27 May 2013

"Although it is well established that soils are the dominating source for atmospheric nitrous oxide (N2O), we are still struggling to fully understand the complexity of the underlying microbial production and consumption processes and the links to biotic (e.g. inter- and intra-species competition, food webs, plant-microbe interaction) and abiotic (e.g. soil climate, physics and chemistry) factors. Recent work shows that a better understanding of the composition and diversity of the microbial community across a variety of soils in different climates and under different land use, as well as plant-microbe interactions in the rhizosphere, may provide a key to better understand the variability of N2O fluxes at the soil-atmosphere interface. Moreover, recent insights into the regulation of the reduction of N2O to dinitrogen (N2) have increased our understanding of N2O exchange. This improved process understanding, building on the increased use of isotope tracing techniques and metagenomics, needs to go along with improvements in measurement techniques for N2O (and N2) emission in order to obtain robust field and laboratory datasets for different ecosystem types. Advances in both fields are currently used to improve process descriptions in biogeochemical models, which may eventually be used not only to test our current process understanding from the microsite to the field level, but also used as tools for up-scaling emissions to landscapes and regions and to explore feedbacks of soil N2O emissions to changes in environmental conditions, land management and land use."

Source: Available HTTP: http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/368/1621/20130122.abstract [Nov. 25, 2013]

Here is a link to open access, full-text PDF from the Royal Society website:
Processes Nitrous oxide emissions from soils: how well do we understand the processes and their controls?


Keywords: Nitrous oxide (N2O), soil N2O emissions, modelling,  nitrogen gas,  microbial N2O production and consumption,  N2O measurement techniques, biogeochemical models, isotope tracing techniques and metagenomics,  environmental controls,  land management and land use 


 
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