Research Shows Limited Sign of Soil Adaptation to Climate Warming

Researchers measured carbon flux from soil at Toolik Field Station in Arctic Alaska. Photo credit: Jim Tang
Researchers measured carbon flux from soil at Toolik Field Station in Arctic Alaska. Photo credit: Jim Tang

While scientists and policy experts debate the impacts of global warming, the Earth’s soil is releasing roughly nine times more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than all human activities combined. This huge carbon flux from soil, which is due to the natural respiration of soil microbes and plant roots, begs one of the central questions in climate change science. As the global climate warms, will soil respiration rates increase, adding even more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and accelerating climate change?

Previous experimental studies of this question have not produced a consensus, prompting University of New Hampshire scientist Serita Frey, Professor of Natural Resources and the Environment, and more than 40 researchers from across the globe reviewed data from 27 studies across nine biomes, from the desert to the Arctic. Their analysis was published recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This work represents the world’s largest dataset to date of soil respiration response to experimental warming. The full study is called “Temperature Response of Soil Respiration Largely Unaltered with Experimental Warming.”

“This work is important because, rather than focusing on the warming response at a single site, it aggregates data collected from many sites across a range of ecosystems. This makes the conclusions and predictions more robust,” Frey said.

One prediction from the synthesis is that rising global temperatures result in regionally variable responses in soil respiration, with colder climates being considerably more responsive. “Consistently across all biomes, we found that soil respiration increased with soil temperature up to about 25°C (77°F),” said Joanna Carey, a Postdoctoral Scientist in the Marine Biological Laboratory Ecosystems Center in Woods Hole, MA, and the lead scientist on the study. Above the 25°C threshold, respiration rates decreased with further increases in soil temperature. “

“That means the Arctic latitudes, where soil temperatures rarely, if ever, reach 25°C, will continue to be most responsive to climate warming. Because there is so much carbon stored in frozen soils of the Arctic, this has really serious repercussions for future climate change,” Carey said.

The team also found that soil microbes in experimental warming studies showed no sign of adaptation — meaning a muted respiration response to rising temperatures — in all of the biomes studied, except desert and boreal forest. This indicates that soils will typically respond strongly to increasing temperature by releasing more carbon dioxide, said Jianwu Tang with the Marine Biological Laboratory Ecosystems Center and a lead scientist on the study.

“Going forward, we need to better explore the biome-specific responses as global temperatures shift beyond the historic range,” Frey said. To understand how global carbon in soils will respond to climate change, the authors stress, more data are needed from under- and non-represented regions, especially the Arctic and the tropics.

This material is based upon work supported by the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, through joint funding of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, under award number 003421, and the state of New Hampshire.

 

 

 

Topics:

Leave a Reply

5 comments on “Research Shows Limited Sign of Soil Adaptation to Climate Warming

  1. Anyone starting to think maybe we have the cart and the horse in the wrong sequence? Perhaps CO2 is rising due to a warming that is largely natural and started before the rise in CO2. Perhaps CO2 is not the strong driver we think it is and other processes are causing the mild warming.

    1. Wishful thinking I’m afraid. The preponderance of scientific evidence supports the theory that this warming is associated with human activity.

    2. Are you really suggesting that thousands of climate scientists from all regions have it all backwards ?
      I guess that is easier to deal with than accepting responsibility for human caused climate change.
      I have watched crops be ruined by record temps for the past 10 years, more or less as predicted and modeled.
      Look at the rising CO2 levels in the oceans.
      It’s all right there, there is no debate about ocean acidification from CO2. There is actually no debate about climate change being human caused, not among the 99% of the worlds credible scientists who study it.

  2. It is still vanity to think that man can cause global warming, global cooling, climate change, or whatever the most current scare phrase is. I think we could really find the true answers to these research projects if we follow the money. Anyone heard of the phrase “Job security”? If you want to keep your grant money flowing in and keep your research center operating and yourself employed them you better make sure your research will please the grantor of your finances.

    1. It is sheer chutzpah when “man” thought he could tame Mother Nature.
      This is her payback. You should know better.

Citrus Stories
raindrops in standing water
Citrus
September 13, 2017
New Guidance on FSMA Ag Water Compliance, Water Testing, and Farm Inspections Announced
FDA issued a rule to extend compliance dates for agricultural water and announced a start date for farm inspections. Read More
citrus grove damage from Irma at SWFREC in Immokalee
Citrus
September 13, 2017
Florida Farmers Digging out From Impacts of Irma
Damage reports starting to flood in from the field following monster storm, and it's not pretty. Read More
Biocontrols Conference
September 11, 2017
The Grower’s Take: Citrus, HLB, and Biological Control
Uncle Matt’s Organic orange juice brand has enjoyed steady growth since its 2002 inception. The brand’s success is due to Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Summer News Stories that Have Growers Talking
Farming has been in the media spotlight this year. I asked each of this month’s columnists and contributors for their Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Whose Sustainable Standard Wins?
Retailers’ race to win the most sustainable produce prize leaves growers trying to keep up with fast-developing demands. Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Improving Water Management: Can Silicon Valley Help?
Though very much-needed, technological solutions must be cost-effective and industry appropriate. Read More
Florida oranges
Citrus
August 31, 2017
Extra Early Florida Citrus Forecast Calling For Sunshine
Marked increase in production predicted for the next crop of oranges. Read More
Citrus
August 30, 2017
How Harvey May Impact Specialty Crop Growers
The devastating human toll from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey has rightly dominated news coverage. Growers and those who work with them, however, should also think about how this historic storm will also affect them.  Read More
Insect & Disease Update
August 28, 2017
California Extends Citrus Quarantine
A 94-square mile area of San Bernardino, Riverside counties now a part of state huanglongbing quarantine. Read More
Strawberry fieldworker in Florida
Citrus
August 28, 2017
Specialty Crop Concern Feeds Need to Negotiate NAFTA Now
Although trade talk objectives may not deliver the short-term relief for Florida fruit and vegetable growers, they appear on the right track. Read More
Cannabis plant closeup
Citrus
August 28, 2017
3 More Florida Growers Given Green Light to Cultivate Medicinal Cannabis
Once exclusive enterprise continues to expand for more seeking to engage alternative crop endeavor. Read More
multiple hands holding a plate full of veggies
Citrus
August 27, 2017
USDA Releases Software to Help Small Operations with Food Safety Plans
While the free tool was primarily designed for use by small firms, any size manufacturer can opt to use it. Read More
Workers picking in a Florida strawberry field
Citrus
August 25, 2017
Transcending Farm Labor Crisis No Easy Task [Opinion]
Technology could be on cusp of fixing labor problems for growers of crops that are traditionally hand harvested. Read More
two-spotted spider mite
Citrus
August 25, 2017
California EPA Seeking to Review Chlorpyrifos
Department of Pesticide Regulation, Office of Environmental Health pursuing health protections. Read More
Citrus
August 23, 2017
Varroa Mite Researchers Talk High Infestations in Bee Colonies
In 2016, The New York State Beekeeper Tech Team (which is attached to Cornell University’s Dyce Lab Beekeeping Resources) found that Read More
The Latest
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momen…
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Hopes High for Hops Fresh From Florida
When it comes to alternative crop solutions, something good is brewing in the Sunshine State. Do you have what it takes to tap in? Read More
Citrus
September 15, 2017
Help Extended to Hurricane-Weary Farmers…
USDA chief grants extra time and special procedures to document and file claims. Read More
Citrus
September 13, 2017
New Guidance on FSMA Ag Water Compliance…
FDA issued a rule to extend compliance dates for agricultural water and announced a start date for farm inspections. Read More
Citrus
September 13, 2017
Florida Farmers Digging out From Impacts…
Damage reports starting to flood in from the field following monster storm, and it's not pretty. Read More
Biocontrols Conference
September 11, 2017
The Grower’s Take: Citrus, HLB, and Biol…
Uncle Matt’s Organic orange juice brand has enjoyed steady growth since its 2002 inception. The brand’s success is due to Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Summer News Stories that Have Growers Ta…
Farming has been in the media spotlight this year. I asked each of this month’s columnists and contributors for their Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Whose Sustainable Standard Wins?
Retailers’ race to win the most sustainable produce prize leaves growers trying to keep up with fast-developing demands. Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Improving Water Management: Can Silicon …
Though very much-needed, technological solutions must be cost-effective and industry appropriate. Read More
Citrus
August 31, 2017
Extra Early Florida Citrus Forecast Call…
Marked increase in production predicted for the next crop of oranges. Read More
Citrus
August 30, 2017
How Harvey May Impact Specialty Crop Gro…
The devastating human toll from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey has rightly dominated news coverage. Growers and those who work with them, however, should also think about how this historic storm will also affect them.  Read More
Citrus
August 28, 2017
Specialty Crop Concern Feeds Need to Neg…
Although trade talk objectives may not deliver the short-term relief for Florida fruit and vegetable growers, they appear on the right track. Read More
Citrus
August 28, 2017
3 More Florida Growers Given Green Light…
Once exclusive enterprise continues to expand for more seeking to engage alternative crop endeavor. Read More
Citrus
August 27, 2017
USDA Releases Software to Help Small Ope…
While the free tool was primarily designed for use by small firms, any size manufacturer can opt to use it. Read More
Citrus
August 25, 2017
Transcending Farm Labor Crisis No Easy T…
Technology could be on cusp of fixing labor problems for growers of crops that are traditionally hand harvested. Read More
Citrus
August 25, 2017
California EPA Seeking to Review Chlorpy…
Department of Pesticide Regulation, Office of Environmental Health pursuing health protections. Read More
Citrus
August 23, 2017
Varroa Mite Researchers Talk High Infest…
In 2016, The New York State Beekeeper Tech Team (which is attached to Cornell University’s Dyce Lab Beekeeping Resources) found that Read More
Citrus
August 23, 2017
Advice From the FDA on How Growers Can K…
Want tips that will keep your operation on the right side of the FDA when it comes to food safety? American Vegetable Grower® decided the best advice would come directly from the FDA itself.  Read More