Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New report says human tampering threatens planet's life-sustaining surface

03.08.2006
Scientists call for effort to understand Earth's 'critical zone'
In a report released today, 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?

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>