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October 2009 Archive: Soil News

These news stories, which concern soil and soil-related topics, have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. 

Bacteria Could Survive in Martian Soil (Universe Today, 31 Oct 09)

Studies with bacteria from harsh environments on Earth have determined that it is possible for similar bacteria to survive the harsh conditions in Martian soils. When combined with the Phoenix lander data from last year, the presence of Martian bacteria is possible.

What lies beneath the rainforest (Independent, 31 Oct 09)

Ecuador has an unusual proposition to preserver its rainforest. By paying Ecuador to keep the estimated 846 million barrels of oil in the 2.5 million acre Yasuni National Park, Ecuador will keep an estimated 410 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere and preserve its rainforests, flora, fauna, and indigenous people.

Methane impact on global warming ‘much greater than thought’ (Telegraph.co.uk, 30 Oct 09)

A new study by NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies has found that methane is 33 times more damaging if you include the effects of interactions with other airborne pollutants. Methane is emitted from burping cows, plowing soil, composting, landfills, and burning coal and natural gas.

Soil moisture and ocean salinity satellite ready for launch (e! Science News, 29 Oct 09)

The European Space Agency Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity satellite (SMOS) is scheduled to be launched on Monday morning, November 2. The satellite will be the first to measure moisture levels in the Earth’s soils and to measure the salinity in the Earth’s oceans. These measurements of salinity and soil moisture will help us understand how water is transported, understand ocean currents, and make more accurate weather forecasts and climate simulations.

Expert to discuss phosphorus’ impact on Gulf ‘dead zone’ (PhysOrg.com, 28 Oct 09)

Dr. Curtis Richardson, ecologist and wetland soil scientist at Duke University, will give a lecture entitled “Phosphorus Biogeochemistry and Wetland Function: The State of Our Understanding” at the upcoming ASA-CSA-SSSA meetings. The lecture will focus on realistic management techniques to improve wetland functions while sustaining ecological functions in the landscape, with an emphasis on the phosphorus cycle. Many researchers believe that phosphorus in fertilizer runoff and wastewater discharge is responsible for offshore “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico.

Proposal To Place Biomass, Biofuels Under CO2 Emission Cap Is Based On Flawed Logic, BIO Says (Bioresearch Online, 28 Oct 09)

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has stated that treating renewable energy the same as energy from fossil fuels, such as a recent proposal to count international emissions against U.S. renewable biomass production, goes against the goal of reducing climate change.

Do Earth’s Soils Contain Enough Nitrogen for Its Plants to Receive the Full Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment? (CO2 Science, 27 Oct 09)

This is an editorial disputing a recently published paper which proposes that their computer model is consistent with the progressive nitrogen limitation hypothesis. This hypothesis says the ecological interactions between carbon and nitrogen in the land component of an atmosphere-ocean general circulation model would lead to decreased carbon uptake from CO2. Therefore the amount of CO2 from man-made sources that is predicted to be sequestered would actually be lower.

The Dirt on Dirt (The Spectrum – The University at Buffalo; 26 Oct  09)

This is a short article describing the University at Buffalo Geology Department’s research on erosion. Sean Bennett, professor of geology, is trying to determine the role of water in the erosion process and to determine methods of slowing down erosion. Bennett uses small-scale simulators, rainfall simulators, and cameras to study erosion. The article also includes a good brief description of the erosion process.

Carbon Trading in the USA  (ABC News – Australia, 25 Oct 09)

Pip Courtney investigates the emissions trading schemes in the USA through a series of interviews.  David Lehman is from the Chicago Board of Trade where grain, seed, livestock, and dairy products are traded.  Mike Walsh is from the Chicago Climate Exchange, North America’s only legally binding greenhouse gas emissions allowance trading house. Also interviewed are Roger Johnson from the National Farmers Union, Iowa farmer Doug Gronau, Dave Miller from the Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa farmer Tim Kaldenberg, and analyst Gary Blumenthal.

NASA Researchers Explore Lightning’s NOx-ious Impact on Pollution, Climate (PhysOrg.com, 24 Oct 2009)

New research indicates that lightening-produced NOx may have a stronger impact on ozone and the climate than previously thought.

Sensing Disasters From Space: ‘Earth Binoculars’ See Our Planet Through An Astral Lens (Science Daily, 24 Oct 2009)

A new technology from Tel Aviv University called Hyperspectral Remote Sensor (HRS) combines sensors in orbit and sensors on the ground to give advanced warnings about natural and man-made disasters. It uses a combination of chemical, physical, and optical disciplines to warn about potential disasters such as water contamination, pollution spills, and weather systems. HRS can also be used by property developers, contractors and farmers for land management or purchases. Also see material at American Friends of Tel Aviv University.

Footprints in the Landscape: Sustainability through Plant and Soil Sciences (ASA-CSA-SSSA International Meetings, 23 Oct 2009)

Program and searchable abstracts concerning research on sustainability in crops and soils and other topics. Meetings will be held November 1-5, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Bill Gates addresses 2009 World Food Prize Symposium. (World Food Prize, 22 Oct 2009)

Bill Gates, representing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, discusses approaches to improving agriculture for African small-holder farmers at the 2009 World Food Prize. He points out that the effort to help small-holder farmers is split into two camps. One side has technological approaches that focus on improving crop productivity through transgenic and genetic breeding programs. On the other side are environmental approaches that improve sustainability. He makes the point that the best progress would be made by combining the two efforts, as his foundation attempts to do. You can watch his speech in the video above.

Diverting Sediment-rich Water Below New Orleans Could Lead to Extensive New Land (National Science Foundation, 21 Oct 2009)

For decades, large portions of the Mississippi Delta have disappeared into the sea as sea-level rise, land subsidence, and a reduction in river sediment have taken their toll. Future land loss could be matched by diverting sediment-rich water from the Mississippi Delta through a pair of cuts in the levees downstream from New Orleans. The newly generated land could equal almost half the acreage expected to disappear without the diversions.

How does groundwater pollution occur? (Mother Nature Network, 20 Oct 2009)

This is a nice little discussion of the sources and mechanisms of groundwater pollution with graphics.

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