Soil processes and functions across an international network of Critical Zone Observatories

Introduction to experimental methods and initial results

Steven Banwart, Manoj Menon, Stefano M. Bernasconi, Jaap Bloem, Winfried E.H. Blum, Danielle Maia de Souza, Brynhildur Davidsdotir, Christopher J. Duffy, Georg J. Lair, Pavel Kram, Anna Lamacova, Lars Lundin, Nikolaos P. Nikolaidis, Martin Novak, Panos Panagos, Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir, Brian Reynolds, David Robinson, Svetla Rousseva, Peter de Ruiter & 4 others Pauline van Gaans, Liping Weng, Timothy Stapler White, Bin Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Growth in human population and demand for wealth creates ever-increasing pressure on global soils, leading to soil losses and degradation worldwide. Critical Zone science studies the impact linkages between these pressures, the resulting environmental state of soils, and potential interventions to protect soil and reverse degradation. New research on soil processes is being driven by the scientific hypothesis that soil processes can be described along a life cycle of soil development. This begins with formation of new soil from parent material, development of the soil profile, and potential loss of the developed soil functions and the soil itself under overly intensive anthropogenic land use, thus closing the cycle. Four Critical Zone Observatories in Europe have been selected focusing research at sites that represent key stages along the hypothetical soil life cycle; incipient soil formation, productive use of soil for farming and forestry, and decline of soil due to longstanding intensive agriculture. Initial results from the research show that soil develops important biogeochemical properties on the time scale of decades and that soil carbon and the development of favourable soil structure takes place over similar time scales. A new mathematical model of soil aggregate formation and degradation predicts that set-aside land at the most degraded site studied can develop substantially improved soil structure with the accumulation of soil carbon over a period of several years. Further results demonstrate the rapid dynamics of soil carbon; how quickly it can be lost, and also demonstrate how data from the CZOs can be used to determine parameter values for models at catchment scale. A structure for a new integrated Critical Zone model is proposed that combines process descriptions of carbon and nutrient flows, a simplified description of the soil food web, and reactive transport; all coupled with a dynamic model for soil structure and soil aggregation. This approach is proposed as a methodology to analyse data along the soil life cycle and test how soil processes and rates vary within, and between, the CZOs representing different life cycle stages. In addition, frameworks are discussed that will help to communicate the results of this science into a more policy relevant format using ecosystem service approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)758-772
Number of pages15
JournalComptes Rendus - Geoscience
Volume344
Issue number11-12
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012

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observatory
soil
life cycle
soil structure
soil carbon
soil process
method
soil function
timescale
degradation
intensive agriculture
set-aside
reactive transport
soil aggregate
parent material
ecosystem service
food web
soil profile
forestry
catchment

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Banwart, Steven ; Menon, Manoj ; Bernasconi, Stefano M. ; Bloem, Jaap ; Blum, Winfried E.H. ; Souza, Danielle Maia de ; Davidsdotir, Brynhildur ; Duffy, Christopher J. ; Lair, Georg J. ; Kram, Pavel ; Lamacova, Anna ; Lundin, Lars ; Nikolaidis, Nikolaos P. ; Novak, Martin ; Panagos, Panos ; Ragnarsdottir, Kristin Vala ; Reynolds, Brian ; Robinson, David ; Rousseva, Svetla ; de Ruiter, Peter ; van Gaans, Pauline ; Weng, Liping ; White, Timothy Stapler ; Zhang, Bin. / Soil processes and functions across an international network of Critical Zone Observatories : Introduction to experimental methods and initial results. In: Comptes Rendus - Geoscience. 2012 ; Vol. 344, No. 11-12. pp. 758-772.
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Banwart, S, Menon, M, Bernasconi, SM, Bloem, J, Blum, WEH, Souza, DMD, Davidsdotir, B, Duffy, CJ, Lair, GJ, Kram, P, Lamacova, A, Lundin, L, Nikolaidis, NP, Novak, M, Panagos, P, Ragnarsdottir, KV, Reynolds, B, Robinson, D, Rousseva, S, de Ruiter, P, van Gaans, P, Weng, L, White, TS & Zhang, B 2012, 'Soil processes and functions across an international network of Critical Zone Observatories: Introduction to experimental methods and initial results', Comptes Rendus - Geoscience, vol. 344, no. 11-12, pp. 758-772. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crte.2012.10.007

Soil processes and functions across an international network of Critical Zone Observatories : Introduction to experimental methods and initial results. / Banwart, Steven; Menon, Manoj; Bernasconi, Stefano M.; Bloem, Jaap; Blum, Winfried E.H.; Souza, Danielle Maia de; Davidsdotir, Brynhildur; Duffy, Christopher J.; Lair, Georg J.; Kram, Pavel; Lamacova, Anna; Lundin, Lars; Nikolaidis, Nikolaos P.; Novak, Martin; Panagos, Panos; Ragnarsdottir, Kristin Vala; Reynolds, Brian; Robinson, David; Rousseva, Svetla; de Ruiter, Peter; van Gaans, Pauline; Weng, Liping; White, Timothy Stapler; Zhang, Bin.

In: Comptes Rendus - Geoscience, Vol. 344, No. 11-12, 01.11.2012, p. 758-772.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - Soil processes and functions across an international network of Critical Zone Observatories

T2 - Introduction to experimental methods and initial results

AU - Banwart, Steven

AU - Menon, Manoj

AU - Bernasconi, Stefano M.

AU - Bloem, Jaap

AU - Blum, Winfried E.H.

AU - Souza, Danielle Maia de

AU - Davidsdotir, Brynhildur

AU - Duffy, Christopher J.

AU - Lair, Georg J.

AU - Kram, Pavel

AU - Lamacova, Anna

AU - Lundin, Lars

AU - Nikolaidis, Nikolaos P.

AU - Novak, Martin

AU - Panagos, Panos

AU - Ragnarsdottir, Kristin Vala

AU - Reynolds, Brian

AU - Robinson, David

AU - Rousseva, Svetla

AU - de Ruiter, Peter

AU - van Gaans, Pauline

AU - Weng, Liping

AU - White, Timothy Stapler

AU - Zhang, Bin

PY - 2012/11/1

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N2 - Growth in human population and demand for wealth creates ever-increasing pressure on global soils, leading to soil losses and degradation worldwide. Critical Zone science studies the impact linkages between these pressures, the resulting environmental state of soils, and potential interventions to protect soil and reverse degradation. New research on soil processes is being driven by the scientific hypothesis that soil processes can be described along a life cycle of soil development. This begins with formation of new soil from parent material, development of the soil profile, and potential loss of the developed soil functions and the soil itself under overly intensive anthropogenic land use, thus closing the cycle. Four Critical Zone Observatories in Europe have been selected focusing research at sites that represent key stages along the hypothetical soil life cycle; incipient soil formation, productive use of soil for farming and forestry, and decline of soil due to longstanding intensive agriculture. Initial results from the research show that soil develops important biogeochemical properties on the time scale of decades and that soil carbon and the development of favourable soil structure takes place over similar time scales. A new mathematical model of soil aggregate formation and degradation predicts that set-aside land at the most degraded site studied can develop substantially improved soil structure with the accumulation of soil carbon over a period of several years. Further results demonstrate the rapid dynamics of soil carbon; how quickly it can be lost, and also demonstrate how data from the CZOs can be used to determine parameter values for models at catchment scale. A structure for a new integrated Critical Zone model is proposed that combines process descriptions of carbon and nutrient flows, a simplified description of the soil food web, and reactive transport; all coupled with a dynamic model for soil structure and soil aggregation. This approach is proposed as a methodology to analyse data along the soil life cycle and test how soil processes and rates vary within, and between, the CZOs representing different life cycle stages. In addition, frameworks are discussed that will help to communicate the results of this science into a more policy relevant format using ecosystem service approaches.

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