Wetlands provide a wide range of services, such as water purification, wildlife habitat, and flood control. But what exactly is a wetland? Wetlands are transitional zones between land and aquatic ecosystems. Wetlands are characterized by three things: saturation, the presence of hydric (low-oxygen) soils, and hydrophytic (water-loving) plants. Let’s explain these one by one! Saturation … Continue reading How are wetland plants and soils different from drier soils?
Wetlands are fun places to get muddy, enjoy the outdoors, and listen for birdsongs. They provide important habitat for wildlife, and for recreation. You’ve likely seen wetlands on the fringes of lakes, on river floodplains, along the coast, and anywhere else where water accumulates on the landscape. Wetlands are found at the intersection of earth/soil … Continue reading What’s being done to restore wetlands?
Irrigation is a common farming practice, several thousand years old. It is an effort to add water to crops when rainfall is not enough to grow those crops. A North American group called the Hohokam lived 600-1600 years ago in the Lower Salt River valley in Arizona. They are well-known for their irrigation engineering. The … Continue reading How did soil salinity affect ancient civilizations?
There isn’t a simple answer to this complex question – but my research hopes to shed some light on this important subject. The key to answering this question starts with understanding that all soils, microbes, and fertilizers are unique. Different farms – or even areas within a farm – may have different situations. Interactions between … Continue reading How are soil microbes affected by fertilizer in soils?
Disasters like Deepwater Horizon create long- and short-term effects. Our past two blogs have covered what happened immediately once the crude oil arrived on the shores of the Louisiana wetlands. This blog will look at how those wetlands recovered, and where things stand 10 years later. The good news is walking along the shoreline now, … Continue reading Deepwater Horizon: what will the future bring?
Immediately after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill some immediate questions posed were: how bad is the spill in terms of coastal pollution; and,what new technologies could be brought to bear for environmental quality assessment? To evaluate these questions engineers and spill responders were brought in. Their job was to evaluate new and innovative technologies that … Continue reading Determining the impact of Deepwater Horizon’s spill on soil
April 2020, is the 10th anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We are dedicating this months’ Soils Matter blogs to the topic of the wetlands and soils, how scientists helped determine and solve some related issues – and where the wetlands are in their recovery. British Petroleum’s Deepwater … Continue reading How did Deepwater Horizon’s spill affect the coastal soils and wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico?
Alaska was on fire in the summer of 2019. It was the hottest summer on record for the state, and the driest on record in southcentral Alaska. For the first time ever, “extreme drought” conditions were declared. A typical summer in Alaska sees rain in May, a drier June, followed by increasing rain until winter. … Continue reading What happened to Alaska’s soils during the 2019 fires?
Alluvial soils are soils deposited by surface water. You’ll find them along rivers, in floodplains and deltas (like the Mississippi Delta), stream terraces, and areas called alluvial fans. This last category results from larger floods, causing the soil to spread out in the shape of a triangle fan. These soils are formed differently than many … Continue reading What are alluvial soils?
When people think about endangered or threatened ecosystems, often the Amazon rainforest or the Great Barrier Reef come to mind. And, they are important. There’s another, less well-known yet very important ecosystem that’s endangered – the Great American Prairie. Prairies and grasslands are some of the most endangered (and least talked about) ecosystems on earth. … Continue reading Great American Prairies – the most endangered ecosystem on earth?