Climate-induced soil changes may cause more erosion and flash flooding

phys.org | 9/13/2018 | Staff
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The earth beneath our feet isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think about the impacts of climate change. However, a study by a UC Riverside-led team of researchers predicts a climate-induced reduction in large soil pores, which may intensify the water cycle and contribute to more flash flooding and soil erosion by the end of the 21st century.

In a paper published Sept. 5 in Nature, the scientists studied the impact of climate change on macroporosity—the amount of large pores in the soil. Macropores, which are greater than 0.08 mm in diameter, allow water to be absorbed easily into the surrounding soil, where it can be used by plants, transport nutrients, and eventually make its way back into underground aquifers.

Response - Macroporosity - Change - Role - Water

"It is important to predict the response of macroporosity to climate change because of its role in the water cycle, and ultimately in water scarcity, food security, human health and loss of biodiversity," said Daniel Hirmas, an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and lead author on the study.

Using a large database of soils collected over 50 years from across the continental U.S. combined with atmospheric data from a network of weather stations, the researchers examined changes in macroporosity across a rainfall, temperature, and humidity gradient. They found macropores were more likely to develop in drier climates than humid climates, and that...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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