National Program (NP) 212, Climate Change, Soils and Emissions Research supports research to improve the quality of atmosphere and soil resources that both affect and are affected by agriculture, to understand the effects of climate change on agriculture, and to prepare agriculture for adaptation to climate change.
Agricultural systems function within the soil-atmosphere continuum. Mass and energy exchange processes occur within this continuum and agriculture can significantly affect the processes. Emissions from agriculture to the atmosphere affect air quality and increase atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations. While GHG emissions result from the natural cycling of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), these emissions also contribute to climate change. A changing climate impacts agriculture, range and pasture systems, and soils through alterations in precipitation and temperature patterns, and increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration. The impacts of climate change create challenges to agriculture and its soil resources, but also offer new opportunities for agricultural production and enhancement of soil quality.
Soils are a crucial boundary resource between agriculture and the atmosphere. Soils in agricultural systems must be managed to meet rising global demands for food, feed, fiber, fuel and ecosystem services while maintaining soil productivity and limiting undesirable interactions between soils and the atmosphere.
The variability of the atmosphere, soils, and plants, and the complexity of interactions among these systems require collaborations by ARS scientists conducting NP212 research. Formal and informal Cross Location Research (CLR) projects including the Greenhouse gas Reduction through Agricultural Carbon Enhancement network (GRACEnet), the Renewable Energy Assessment Project (REAP), and field campaigns focused on air quality are successful examples. Synthesis and integration of information, including sources outside NP212, by CLR projects increases the utility and impact of ARS research. Efficient assimilation of data from NP212 projects into existing and future collaborative data bases will enhance synthesis and integration analyses and expand research opportunities.
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Action Plan 2009-2013