The Challenge

By 2030 the human population is predicted to be over 8.3 billion with a 50% increase in demand for food and fuel and a 30% increase in demand for clean water, while mitigating and adapting to global warming. As a major policy development to tackle these threats, in 2007, the European Commission published the Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection. This is a precursor to legislation that identifies a specific policy need to address the threats to soil and the essential eco-system services that it provides.

The crucial challenge for the SoilTrEC project is to understand the rates of processes that dictate soil mass stocks and their function within Earth's Critical Zone (CZ). The CZ is the environment that extends from the top of the tree canopy to the bottom of our drinking water aquifers; where terrestrial life flourishes and feeds most of humanity. The heart of the CZ is where soils are formed, degrade and provide their essential eco-services. Whist our understanding of the CZ has increased over the last 100 years, further advance requires scientists to cross disciplines and scales to integrate understanding of processes in the CZ, ranging from the nano to the global-scale.


Steve Banwart talks about the Critical Zone

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