Project 665 - Sustainable use of black soil critical zone

Brief outline of the project

In the northern hemisphere, three major black soil zones located along the mid-latitude across Northeast China, North America and southern Russia-Ukraine, contribute greatly to the world agriculture. However, after several hundred years’ cultivation, they are facing many problems such as erosion, contamination and salinization, which threaten their sustainability. There is urgent need to measure the state and to understand the evolution and the future of the black soil associated ecosystems to support sustainable land use plans. “Earth critical zone” initiative develops an integrated structure to research the near-surface environment of the planet, and provides a good solution to comprehensively study the black soils.

This project will investigate "how the black soil forms and evolves", "what it looks like now" and "where we should go for its sustainable use", involving "multi-spheres", based on "multi-disciplinarily", and using "multi-techniques". An observation system using remote sensing, geochemistry and critical zone observatories will be established for a comprehensive understanding of the black soil critical zone and its mutual impacts with global change. The research might extend to other black soils, e.g., Pampas Prairie in South America if possible. The outcomes including data and observatories will be open to the public for education and research purposes.

The co-leaders are internationally recognized researchers in these topic areas from leading academic institutions in Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, Russia, United Kingdom, Ukraine, and the United States.

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