Climate change cut soil’s ability to absorb water
Coasts, oceans, ecosystems, weather and human health all face impacts from climate change, and now valuable soils may also be affected.
Climate change may reduce the ability of soils to absorb water in many parts of the world, according to a Rutgers-led study.
And that could have serious implications for groundwater supplies, food production and security, storm water runoff, biodiversity and ecosystems.
“Since rainfall patterns and other environmental conditions are shifting globally as a result of climate change, our results suggest that how water interacts with soil could change appreciably in many parts of the world, and do so fairly rapidly,” said co-author Daniel Giménez, a soil scientist and professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
“We propose that the direction, magnitude and rate of the changes should be measured and incorporated into predictions of ecosystem responses to climate change,” he adds.
Water in soil is crucial for storing carbon, and soil changes could influence the level of carbon dioxide in the air in an unpredictable way, according to Giménez, of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. Carbon dioxide is one of the key greenhouse gases linked to climate change.
Whether rainfall will infiltrate or run off of soil determines how much water will be available for plants or will evaporate into the air.
Studies have shown that water infiltration to soil can change over one to two decades with increased rainfall, and climate change is expected to boost rainfall in many areas of the world.
The next step is to investigate the mechanisms driving the observed changes, in order to extrapolate the findings to other regions of the world and incorporate them into predictions of how ecosystems will respond to climate change.
The scientists also want to study a wider array of environmental factors and soil types, and identify other soil changes that may result from shifts in climate. -Science Daily