Soils are critical components of ecosystems, serving as the reactive media that supports physical, chemical, and biological ecosystem processes. These biogeochemical processes result in development of soil morphological properties and distinct soil-landscape relationships. Basic knowledge of soil development and morphology are important to understanding soil forming processes and how soil development moderates ecosystem response to climate and climate change. Soil processes strongly impact water quality and ecosystem function through adsorption/desorption of nutrients and pollutants, and dissolution/precipitation reactions. Current projects involve:
- use of digital soil mapping techniques to predict the spatial distribution of soil morphological characteristics important for soil classification, use interpretation, and performance and behavior predictability (Rasmussen)
- fundamental studies of mineral transformation in soils across environmental gradients, including their impacts on contemporaneous weathering rates, landscape evolution, and redox reactions (Rasmussen and Chorover).
- studies examining the interaction between soil development and soil carbon cycling, including how organo-mineral interactions and aggregate stability control soil carbon dynamics and mean residence time (Rasmussen and Chorover)
- quantifying how variation in soil development controls ecosystem soil-water dynamics and aboveground productivity response to climate and climate change (Rasmussen, Crimmins,and Schaap)