Benchmark Soilscapes to Predict Effects of Climatic Change in the Western USA
The effects of climate change on soils are not well known, although it is widely recognized that soil properties vary greatly and function differently as a result of the climate conditions in which they are found. Global circulation models predict a 3 to 4 degree F increase in temperatures by 2030 and 8 to 11 degree F by 2090 for the western US. Predictions of precipitation are less conclusive. Two climate model scenarios forecast an increase in precipitation, particularly in California, and a drying in parts of the Rocky Mountains, while others predict drier conditions in the Rocky Mountains by 2030. Crucial unknowns identified by the US Global Change Research Program suggest that comprehensive studies are needed to document interactions between soils, water, and air resources. This project will study the impacts of climatic change on important
soil landscapes (soilscapes) of the western US. Specifically, the study will attempt to quantify the effects of precipitation and temperature on soil processes such as carbon storage, leaching, mineral weathering, and biological activity. A direct recipient of the research findings will be the (National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) Program, which encompasses the NRCS, Forest Service, Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and land grant universities.