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🔬 "Soil, Political Ecology & Water"

Water Talk

Photo by Glen Carrie / Unsplash

Hosts: Drs. Mallika Nocco, Faith Kearns & Sam Sandoval
Guest: Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe | UC Merced
Category: 🔬 Research

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[13:11] “One of the most important ecosystem functions that all living things on Earth derive from soil is the ability of soil to actually regulate the quality and quantity of water that's available for living things. The example that I like to give […] is I like to get my students who are living in you know, in the Central Valley of California and opportunity to imagine where most of our water comes from. All that snow that falls on top of […] the Sierra Nevada, sits there in the winter, either as snow or it melts and seeps into the […] soils. And these […] soils are able to serve basically like a sponge to hold on to a lot of the water during the winter and spring, because they're rich in organic matter.”

[14:33] “The soil system plays this fundamental role in regulating the […] amount but also the nature of the water that we're able to consume. And soil health and soil security are intricately tied to water dynamics, because if the soil is degraded, i.e. its ability to hold on to water is compromised, it means it can't actually support plant life. It can't support the microbes that are fundamentally important for regulating so much of the biogeochemical and other processes that need to happen in soil to regulate life, and the Earth’s system. And so there's this intricate linkages between the health and security of the soil and the water cycle or the water system […] at multiple levels. Healthy soils are wonderful at storing water and making it available to all other living things.”

[16:12] “You could think about what climate change is doing to soil from the perspective of […] warming, which is causing drought and […] extreme drying and desiccation of soils. That compromises not just the structure of the soil and its ability to hold water, but also […] the ability to support all life that depends on soil. But then you can also think about extreme climate events, things that occur beyond extreme drought, things that occur with fire, for example, that compromises the health of the soil. Because post fire, for example, soil erosion is increased, then there's a lot of lateral transport of […] the nutrient rich topsoil, into downslope environments and other aquatic environments. […] With climate change, as the hydrologic cycle intensifies, we're also expecting more intense precipitation events that are likely to cause even more soil erosion.”

[17:27] “There was an assessment by the UN that demonstrated that in many parts of the world right now climate change is becoming a threat multiplier for the livelihood and security of many people's food and nutritional security. Part of this is because these areas already have either vulnerable or degraded soils. And adds to that the threat of climate change that comes along with warming, the lower amount of precipitation or even precipitation that comes at the wrong time compared to when plants or human communities need it. This is causing even further degradation of their soils and their resources.”

[18:38] “One of the important things we have to do and it's a non negotiable is adopt climate smart management practices in our soils in a way that allows our soils to be able to stay stable, to not be more vulnerable. And one of those important ways is actually if the soils can maintain their ability to hold on to water, which is related to their ability to actually hold on to carbon. If the soils cannot receive enough water, they cannot support plant productivity, there's not going to be enough carbon coming into the soil to rebuild the stock of carbon in soil. And especially in areas that were cold, warming also unleashes a high degree of high rate of decomposition that depletes the native stock of carbon in soil.”

Rating: 💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 47 min | 🗓️ 02/25/2022
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