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Monday, October 1, 2018

KU MAPS researchers receive NSF ERA award to examine soil properties in response to climate change using math models

Dr. Pam Sullivan and Dr. Sharon Billings
   Dr. Pam Sullivan, Assistant Professor, Geography and Atmospheric Science, and Dr. Sharon Billings, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Senior Scientist, Kansas Biological Survey, at the University of Kansas (KU) have received an NSF Earth Sciences grant award to study the changes of soil properties in response to climate change. The title of their project is RAISE-SitS: Designing models to forecast how biogeochemical fluctuations in soil systems govern soil development, terrestrial water storage and ecosystem nutrient fluxes (NSF EAR #1841614).
     The researchers will develop new mathematical models to study the causes of changing soil structures and examine plant-soil-water responses to varying environmental conditions.  These new “models will allow the effects of soil structure fluctuations on ecosystem processes to be evaluated at diverse spatial and time scales,” and “may improve forecasting of future availability and quality of water resources, soils, and associated ecosystem services.” More specifically, the “soil ecosystem models (empirical and process-based) will be developed at multiple spatial scales to link soil structure and function in order to enhance the prediction of water and biogeochemical fluxes on timescales of decades to centuries. These models will be parameterized using soil, plant, and aquatic microbiome data collected across a strong precipitation gradient in the central USA (part of NSF Kansas Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas) and continental-scale soil databases (e.g., the National Cooperative Soil Survey Soil Characterization Database, United States Department of Agriculture)."These models will also create and make available community tools to examine nutrient fluxes produced by soil, water and biogeochemical feedback, with an ultimate goal of addressing "nationwide problems such as managing the nitrogen cycle and the Gulf of Mexico dead zone" as well as “test climate driven changes in the soil fabric which prompt the emergence of integrated terrestrial responses that are more rapid than typically considered.”

For more information go to NSF EAR #1841614
And KU today 9/17/18

(Quotes in the article taken directly from the NSF EAR #1841614 award abstract)