Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Report Says Human Tampering Threatens Planet's Life-sustaining Surface

Date:
August 1, 2006
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
In a new report, scientists call for a new systematic study of the Earth's "critical zone" -- the life-sustaining outermost surface of the planet, from the vegetation canopy to groundwater and everything in between. Understanding and predicting responses to global and regional change is necessary, they say, to mitigate the impacts of humans on complex ecosystems and ultimately sustain food production.

Some areas of the Earth's critical zone include deep layers of soil that represent millions of years of erosion and new earth formation. Scientists say they need to better understand this and other processes to sustain food production.
Credit: Bill Deitrich, University of California-Berkeley

In a report released August 1, scientists call for a new systematic study of the Earth's "critical zone"--the life-sustaining outermost surface of the planet, from the vegetation canopy to groundwater and everything in between.Understanding and predicting responses to global and regional change is necessary, they say, to mitigate the impacts of humans on complex ecosystems and ultimately sustain food production.

"Development is having a great effect on the critical zone," said soil scientist Donald Sparks of the University of Delaware and co-chair of the NSF workshop that led to the report, entitled Frontiers in Exploration of the Critical Zone. "Converting some of the best land around the world into buildings, roads and concrete has implications for air and water quality and biodiversity, and over time could put pressure on our ability to produce food.

Critical zone sites include an extraordinary diversity of soils and ecosystems ranging from the tropics to the poles, from deserts to wetlands, and from rock-bound uplands to delta sediments.

"Because the critical zone includes air, water and soil and is the focal point of food production, it has a major effect on human life," Sparks said. "It is imperative that we better understand the interactions that occur there."

The report calls for an international Critical Zone Exploration Network, as well as a systematic approach across a broad array of sciences--including geology, soil science, biology, ecology, chemistry, geochemistry, geomorphology and hydrology--to study critical-zone processes.

"We need to understand how living organisms interact with the solid earth at the scale of a billionth-of-a-meter as well as the scale of landscapes, how these effects have changed over geologic time, and how they will change into the future as humans continue to drastically alter the earth's surface," said Sue Brantley, a Penn State University geoscientist who co-chaired the workshop.

Scientists need to determine "how the physical, chemical and biological components of Earth's weathering transforms mineral and organic matter, sculpts terrestrial landscapes, and controls the exchange of greenhouse gases and dust with the global atmosphere," said Enriqueta Barrera, program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the workshop that led to the report.

Scientists believe four key questions surround activity of the atmosphere, landforms, ecosystems and water.

• What processes control fluxes of carbon, particulate and reactive gases in the atmosphere?

• How do variations in, and changes to, chemical and physical weathering processes impact the critical zone?

• How do weathering processes nourish ecosystems?

• How do biogeochemical processes govern long-term sustainability of water and soil resources?

Funding for the critical zone workshop and associated activities was provided by grants from NSF's Division of Earth Sciences to the University of Delaware and Penn State, and by the NSF Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program in Delaware.

 


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "New Report Says Human Tampering Threatens Planet's Life-sustaining Surface." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 August 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060801225503.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2006, August 1). New Report Says Human Tampering Threatens Planet's Life-sustaining Surface. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060801225503.htm
National Science Foundation. "New Report Says Human Tampering Threatens Planet's Life-sustaining Surface." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060801225503.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) — The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — With Pacific ocean water already showing signs of warming, the NOAA says there's about a 66 percent chance the event will begin before November. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins