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Earth and Climate: What's Holding It All Together For Us Earthlings

Sep 17, 2015 05:53 PM EDT
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We are reaching the fall of the UN's International Year of Soils, although that (ahem) grounding fact might have escaped your radar.

In honor of that and the Global Soil Forum that was in Potsdam, Germany, in April, we have compiled some significant reasons why soil is important to everything on Earth, and it's not just because it provides a spot for the roots of your favorite potted ivy-although it's partly that, too. Soil provides:

Carbon storage and climate change mitigation
In a study published in 2014 in the journal GCB Bioenergy, researchers from Dartmouth University concluded that logging could disturb a forest's soil carbon over time. 

Water regulation
In November 2014, Washington State University researchers learned more about conserving soil and water in the world's driest wheat region, which is the Horse Heaven Hills in south-central Washington state-an area that receives about 6 to 8 inches of rain a year. Helping to preserve the soil there (and in similarly arid locations) also prevents disruptive dust storms, said a release.

Maintaining biodiversity
University of Copenhagen scientists recently noted that maintaining a range of bugs, bacteria and microscopic organisms below the soil is just as important as keeping up the above-ground health of the ecosystem, noted a release. Their research from China's Tibetan Plateau was published in Nature Communications

Nutrient provision and cycling for forest and crop growth and other ecosystems
Increasing amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus present in streams throughout the U.S. can cause "nutrient pollution," which can significantly decrease forest-derived carbon in the food webs around streams. This makes the water sources less able to support life, found researchers led by the University of Georgia in March, according to a release. Their findings were in the journal Science

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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