Chief Scientist, Earth Science Division, Pacific Northwest National Lab
Abstract: Climate change (i.e., high atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations (1400 ppm); increasing air temperatures (2–4 °C or greater); significant and/or abrupt changes in daily, seasonal, and interannual temperature; changes in the wet/dry cycles; intensive rainfall and/or heavy storms; extended periods of drought; extreme frost; heat waves and increased fire frequency) is and will significantly affect soil properties and fertility, water resources, food quantity and quality, and environmental quality. Biotic processes that consume atmospheric CO2 and create organic carbon (C) that is either reprocessed to CO2 or stored in soils, are the subject of active current investigations with great concern over the influence of climate change. In addition, abiotic C cycling and its influence on the inorganic C pool in soils is a fundamental global process in which acidic atmospheric CO2 participates in the weathering of carbonate and silicate minerals, ultimately delivering bicarbonate and Ca2+ or other cations that precipitate in the form of carbonates in soils or are transported to the rivers, lakes, and oceans. Soil responses to climate change will be complex, and there are many uncertainties and unresolved issues. The objective of the presentation is to initiate and further stimulate a discussion about some important and challenging aspects of climate-change effects on soils, such as accelerated weathering of soil minerals and resulting C and elemental fluxes in and out of soils, soil/geo-engineering methods used to increase C sequestration in soils, soil organic matter (SOM) protection, transformation and mineralization, and SOM temperature sensitivity. This presentation will also discuss recent research effort and identifies key research needs required to understand the effects of climate change on soils.