Global warming is changing organic matter in soil

Nov 24, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- New research shows that we should be looking to the ground, not the sky, to see where climate change could have its most perilous impact on life on Earth.

Scientists at the University of Toronto Scarborough have published research findings in the prestigious journal, Nature Geoscience, that show global warming actually changes the molecular structure of organic matter in soil.

"Soil contains more than twice the amount of carbon than does the atmosphere, yet, until now, scientists haven't examined this significant carbon pool closely," says Myrna J. Simpson, principal investigator and Associate Professor of Environmental Chemistry at UTSC. "Through our research, we've sought to determine what soils are made up of at the molecular level and whether this composition will change in a warmer world."

Soil organic matter is what makes dirt fertile and able to support plant life – both of which are especially important for agriculture. Organic matter retains water in the soil and prevents erosion. Natural processes of decomposition of soil organic matter provide plants and microbes with the energy source and water they need to grow, and carbon is released into the atmosphere as a by-product of this process. Warming temperatures are expected to speed up this process which will increase the amount of CO2 that is transferred to the atmosphere.

"From the perspective of agriculture, we can't afford to lose carbon from the soil because it will change soil fertility and enhance erosion" says Simpson. "Alternatively, consider all the carbon locked up in permafrost in the Arctic. We also need to understand what will happen to the stored carbon when microbes become more active under warmer temperatures."

Until Simpson's research, scientists didn't know much about soil's molecular composition. Part of the reason is that, from a chemical perspective, soil is difficult to analyze due to its many components, including bacteria, fungi and an array of fresh, partially degraded, or old plant material. Simpson's team, which includes research collaborators Professors Dudley Williams and Andre Simpson, is uniquely positioned to address this new frontier. The team uses a NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) facility - the only NMR facility in Canada specifically dedicated to environmental research – to gain a detailed view of soil's molecular structure and reactivity.

In their current study, Simpson's team used an outdoor field experiment in the valley behind the UTSC campus to ensure natural ecosystem processes were preserved. Electrodes warmed the test soil between three and six degrees through winter and summer seasons, over a 14-month period. Throughout the test period, the team analyzed the molecular composition of soil samples.

Provided by University of Toronto

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jlaroche
4.4 / 5 (7) Nov 24, 2008
There are two aspects to focus on here: the viability of soil (in terms of fecundity) and the retention of CO2. Regarding viability, although agronomists do have methods of revitalizing degraded soil (like the Cubans who found themselves with sub-par soil and no access to petrochemicals after the fall of the Soviet Union), will these techniques work under a different set of variables - i.e. changed climates? And in terms of CO2 retention - will a reversal in the speed of CO2 release be possible in the new system (after increased climate change)?

I sometimes wonder where these changes and counter-changes (i.e. fixes meant to reverse climate change) will lead us - especially since we are working within a highly dynamic system.

http://jacqueslar...ces.html
NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (7) Nov 24, 2008
More ideas on the greenhouse effect. Compacting the arctic permafrost with giant steamrollers
will lower the amount of oxygen reaching the soil bacteria and seal off the peat moss under the permafrost preventing greenhouse gas emissions.

Even more radical. Cover the arctic permafrost with plastic to prevent gas exchange.
You heard it here first.

A very radical solution that might be used in a greenhouse emergency where runaway greenhouse warming threatens life on earth or lesser but still terrible circumstances...
Sow the permaforst fields with sea salt sprayed from aircraft. Evetually rain fall will wash away some of the salt and some plant life will
be viable there. Salt has natural bacteriostatic
effects.

Neil Farbstein
protn7@att.net
RAL
3.5 / 5 (8) Nov 25, 2008
These AGW nuts get further out by the week. An increase in temperature will change the rates of chemical reactions. Boy, that's a real break breakthrough in science eh? Now let's look at reactions that release carbon into the atmosphere and try to get everyone to panic and fund our next proposal. Let's not look at things like increased plant growth which tend to put carbon back into the soil since that's inconvenient to our goal.

AGW has become analogous to Creation "Science". It no longer about science, it's about a religious belief.
morpheus2012
2.8 / 5 (9) Nov 25, 2008
global warming is a scam

gore tryd to run with the scam homw

like the necons did th1e 911 scam

boutgh are ment to bring more control and regualtion taxes on the dumb sheep
GrayMouser
3 / 5 (6) Nov 25, 2008
We already know how the soil will handle increased temperatures. Look at the Medieval Optimum or the Holocene warm period. Both were warmer than today (or even what the AGW folks predict.)
Velanarris
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 26, 2008
More ideas on the greenhouse effect. Compacting the arctic permafrost with giant steamrollers
will lower the amount of oxygen reaching the soil bacteria and seal off the peat moss under the permafrost preventing greenhouse gas emissions.

Even more radical. Cover the arctic permafrost with plastic to prevent gas exchange.
You heard it here first.

A very radical solution that might be used in a greenhouse emergency where runaway greenhouse warming threatens life on earth or lesser but still terrible circumstances...
Sow the permaforst fields with sea salt sprayed from aircraft. Evetually rain fall will wash away some of the salt and some plant life will
be viable there. Salt has natural bacteriostatic
effects.

Neil Farbstein
protn7@att.net


So explain to me why the Romans used to salt the fields of their defeated opponents.

Guessing you didn't know that.

Well the Romans determined that by salting someone's fields they were completely unable to raise viable crops due to how salt causes other nutrients to leech out of the topsoil, leaving the land barren and unarable.
barakn
3.8 / 5 (4) Nov 29, 2008
Well the Romans determined that by salting someone's fields they were completely unable to raise viable crops due to how salt causes other nutrients to leech out of the topsoil, leaving the land barren and unarable.
Wrong. The salt itself makes it impossible for plants to hold onto their water. The effect is a lot faster and more effective than the limited amount of nutrient leaching that might occur. After the salt washes out of the soil, it is once again usable.