How does climate change affect soil? How can these effects be overcome?

2023-05-20 2023-05-20T21:24:30Z
طقس العرب
طقس العرب
فريق تحرير طقس العرب

Weather of Arabia - Life arises from the soil, as plants emerge from it that benefit humans and animals, and inhabit huge communities of microorganisms, insects and animals.

Hence, we must preserve and protect the soil, but in light of the climate change that poses a threat to our planet in this period, the soil is exposed to many risks, which affects its fertility and endangers its production and the organisms dependent on it.



Soil relationship with climate change

The soil faces a direct impact from changes in the proportions of gases and temperature changes in the atmosphere, as it is directly related to the atmosphere. Although soil changes caused by climate change are time-consuming and occur over years, they greatly affect soil quality and agricultural crop yields. However, the plant may be affected more quickly than the soil itself.


In the long term, these effects result in many losses, including:


  • Decreased soil fertility: the soil can be affected by changes in the chemical and physical composition resulting from climate change, which leads to a decrease in its fertility and a deterioration in its quality.
  • Deterioration of agricultural crops: Climate change can cause a decrease in crop productivity and crop quality, due to its negative effects on water availability, changes in temperature, and increased susceptibility to agricultural diseases and pests.
  • Biodiversity loss: Many organisms live in the soil, such as bacteria, fungi, and worms, and these organisms are negatively affected by climate change, which leads to the loss of biodiversity in the soil.
  • Increased ground erosion: Climate change can lead to increased ground erosion and soil erosion, due to the increased frequency of floods and sandstorms and lower groundwater levels, which enhances the process of soil erosion and continuous degradation.
  • Increasing greenhouse gas emissions: Climate change contributes to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, which leads to higher temperatures and changes in the climate system, and this negatively affects the process of soil formation and accumulation.
  • Threat to food security: As a result of the effects of climate change on soils and agricultural crops, food security could be threatened. There may be a shortage of food supplies and an increase in food prices, which affects the ability of individuals to obtain a healthy and balanced diet.


Not only that, climatic changes cause more risks to the soil and the living organisms it harbors



Soil aeration and respiration of microorganisms

Under natural conditions, the activity and growth of soil microorganisms increases with the rise in temperatures, and their activity decreases when the temperatures drop. However, in light of the climatic changes that our planet is witnessing, the long-term rise in atmospheric temperatures affects the activity of microorganisms, which in turn affects the breathing process of these microorganisms. Respiration processes are very important for soil aeration and organic matter decomposition, as they help improve soil quality and increase the efficiency of the organic matter decomposition process, in addition to the release of carbon dioxide.


Soil aeration, which reflects the quality of plant growth and soil in general, is affected by the degree of vital activity of microorganisms. Thus, continuous and prolonged high temperatures can have a negative impact on soil respiration and aeration, which negatively affects soil quality and plant growth.



As temperatures rise, the atmosphere can hold more moisture

Rising temperatures enhance the air's ability to absorb more water vapor, as the air retains about 7% more moisture per degree Celsius. The increased moisture in the atmosphere increases the likelihood of storms and heavy rains.


However, this excess moisture can lead to a negative impact on crop quality and soil erosion. Heavy rains and storms can cause soil erosion and leak vital nutrients and essential minerals from the topsoil. This affects soil fertility and its ability to support healthy plant growth.


According to reports issued by the European Environment Agency in 2016, the impact of climate change was discovered on the soils of the European continent, as moisture levels decreased in some areas. This change in moisture can affect soil quality and requires better soil management and implementation of sustainable agricultural practices to maintain soil health and increase crop yields in the face of increasing climate change.




As temperatures rise, the rate of evaporation increases over the seas and oceans, which affects the water cycle

A study published in the journal "Nature" in February 2022 confirmed that greenhouse gases caused the Earth's temperature to rise, and the water cycle was affected as a result. The study showed that dry regions became drier, while wet regions became wetter. The amount of rain increased by 7% in the wet areas and decreased by the same percentage in the dry areas, which affected the soil quality in the dry areas.


Dr. Yassin Al-Sudani, Professor of Plant Environment at Kafr El-Sheikh University, confirmed in his interview with "Al-Ain News" via "WhatsApp" that climate change will lead to an increase in the amount of precipitation in areas that already enjoy large amounts of rain, such as the tropics, while Drought will increase in desert areas. Al-Sudani explained that this will somehow affect other organisms that depend on these areas, directly or indirectly.


Thus, the impact of climate change on rain and moisture is reflected in soil quality and affects ecosystems and organisms dependent on these environments. We need sustainable action and actions to counter climate change and protect soils and biodiversity to maintain healthy ecosystems, sustain agriculture and preserve biota



According to a study published in the journal "Nature" in January of the year 2019, the increase in soil moisture due to climate change will lead to a decrease in its ability to absorb carbon. Soil carbon uptake is expected to peak around the middle of this century. Then, the soil will shift from being a storehouse of carbon to a source of carbon dioxide, which increases greenhouse gases and contributes to a warming planet.


This discovery highlights the importance of protecting soil quality and preserving its carbon storage capacity. This can be achieved by applying sustainable agricultural practices such as crop rotation, planting diverse crops, and using plant covers to conserve soil moisture and strengthen its structure.


In addition, we must focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions and climate change in general. This can be done by improving energy efficiency, increasing the use of renewable energy, promoting environmental awareness, and adopting environmentally sustainable behaviors.


Therefore, we must work to protect the soil and preserve its carbon storage capacity through sustainable agricultural practices and efforts to combat climate change, in order to preserve the health of our planet and the sustainability of natural resources for future generations.





Soil protection from climate changes

Accordingly, protecting and conserving the soil is essential to maintaining the sustainability of the ecosystem and ensuring sufficient food resources for current and future generations. Accordingly, serious measures must be taken to reduce climate change and promote sustainable agricultural practices and land management in ways that preserve the health and fertility of the soil and reduce its negative impacts on the environment and human societies.


Some considerations for soil conservation and conservation are the application of sustainable farming practices, such as improved agricultural water management, biodiversity conservation, crop rotation, use of organic fertilizers, and reduced use of harmful chemical pesticides.


In addition, soil quality can be enhanced by maintaining vegetation coverage, preventing desertification and soil erosion, and proper soil management to avoid erosion and water waste and pollution.


Of course, achieving sustainable development also requires taking measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, emphasizing renewable energy and improving resource efficiency.


Soil protection is an essential component of sustainable development, maintaining healthy ecosystems and sustaining food security. This requires cooperation between governments, international organizations, farmers and local communities to adopt and implement sustainable policies and practices to preserve this vital wealth that is soil.

This article was written originally in Arabic and is translated using a 3rd party automated service. ArabiaWeather is not responsible for any grammatical errors whatsoever.
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