The Roundup -

Soil Formation Following Glacial Recession Focus Of ARS Brownbagger


February 5, 2020 | View PDF

Due to recent climate change, increased glacial recession in Arctic climates provides a unique opportunity to study soil formation. The evolution from glacial moraines consists of rocks and other materials deposited by the glacier as it moves. How do soils form and change from this mix as glaciers recede, particularly those developing from volcanic materials such as ash, pumice and dust? What chemical properties are present, and how do they contribute to soil formation, particularly in northern latitudes?

These are basic research questions being explored in Iceland where glaciers are currently receding at a rapid pace in the face of climate change. Chloe Turner-Meservy, soils technician USDA Northern Plains Agricultural Research Lab, Sidney, who studied soil formation in Iceland, will share her research experiences and findings this coming Friday, Feb. 7, from noon to 1 pm as part of the lab’s annual winter speaker series. The lab is located at 1500 N. Central Ave., Sidney, and Turner-Meservy’s talk is entitled “Changing soil chemical properties following the glacial recession of Breiðamerkurjökull, SE Iceland.”

“This talk will focus on the findings of my Master’s thesis,” Turner-Meservy said. “I’ll be discussing development of Andic properties in soil being formed from glacial moraine material. Also, examining the trends of plant available nutrients and chemical properties over time; and the influence of seabirds on soil development and trends.”

Emerging glacial forelands are unique and ideal field laboratories for multiple disciplines of science, according to Turner-Meservy. “This is a fundamental research project as there is limited information pertaining to volcanic soils, and more specifically newly forming soil in the Arctic region. Andosols, a type of soil developed from parent material of volcanic origin, tend to have distinctive physical and chemical properties, including: low bulk density, high water holding capacity, natural tendency to accumulate carbon, immobilize phosphorus and are generally considered very fertile soils. We want to understand the rate at which these soils form, how they form, and how they are directly impacted by organic inputs.”

Turner-Mesrvy, earned her BA at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY in Geography and Environmental Science, with a focus on climate change studies, specifically arctic issues, which led to her first trip to Iceland. She earned her master’s degree in in Environment and Natural Resources, specializing in Soil Science at Ohio State University, where she had the opportunity to return to Iceland through a joint-study between Dr. Rattan Lal and Dr. Guðrún Gísladóttir at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík.

Turner-Mesrvy is the second speaker in the 2020 winter BrownBagger series. NPARL invites all interested persons to join them for this presentation beginning at noon this Friday, Feb. 7. Bring your lunch. We’ll provide the dessert!

For questions or more information, contact Beth Redlin at 406-433-9427 or [email protected]


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