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The climate has a direct impact on soil. It determines the nature of soil water-thermal regime and the processes of soil formation. The climate affects the vegetation cover, which is an important factor in soil development. Ultimately, climate is a long-term average indicator of the state of the atmosphere, which characterizes weather patterns and the impact of atmospheric processes on the soil.

Soil is most widely used by the agricultural industry, which makes farming highly dependent on climate change. However, yields and global food production can be kept at today's levels simply by maintaining soil fertility. Better land use and adaptive farming practices in fertilization, irrigation, or solarization of soil for pest management, will help increase yields and reduce agriculture's contribution to global warming.

Better land use and adaptive farming practices in fertilization, irrigation, or solarization of soil for pest management, will help increase yields and reduce agriculture's contribution to global warming.

Until now, researchers have rarely dealt with soils as a factor influencing climate. However, soils change over time, and the land that farmers will work on in 20 years will be very different from what it is today. Therefore, soil depletion is a verdict for agriculture, not only for the climate. Yet, the biggest concern regarding soil and climate change is the carbon dioxide and methane stored in soil and especially in permafrost in boreal regions. Due to increased global temperature, this permafrost melts, releasing massive amounts of greenhouse gases, which could accelerate global warming far beyond human control.

Luckily, modern soil science is there to help research the soil and its properties on a whole new level to augment human understanding of this invaluable resource.

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Revolution in Soil Science

The science about the formation, structure, composition, and properties of soils is called soil science. It emerged at the end of the 19th century at the intersection of geology, biology, and geography. As an independent natural object, soil has a number of unique properties that sharply distinguish it from rocks and minerals from which it is formed.

The soil is characterized by a high content of a special group of minerals known as clay or secondary minerals. An important soil feature is the possession of specific organic compounds – humic substances – products of processing of plant and animal organisms. Thanks to humus, the soil acquires its fertility.

Soil is the main regulator of the composition of the Earth's atmosphere. This is due to the activity of soil microorganisms, which on a huge scale produce a variety of gases like nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and monoxide, methane, and others. Most of these gases cause a greenhouse effect and deplete the ozone layer, which results in changes in soil properties and can lead to climate change.

Luckily, modern soil science enables deep and complex land research to understand how soil and its properties are interconnected with the climate and its change. For example, when scientists had advanced microscopes and techniques such as nuclear magnetic resonance and X-ray spectroscopy at their hands, they finally could look directly into soil cover rather than pulling a piece of it out and then look at it.

This method has allowed researchers to discover that there were few or no long recalcitrant carbon molecules that don’t break down. Almost everything appeared to be small and digestible. Hence, soil contains no carbon that can’t, potentially, be broken down by microorganisms and released into the atmosphere.

Another issue came up when scientists began to suggest that the coaxing of large carbon volumes back into the soil (planting crops without tilling the soil) could mitigate or even reverse the effect of climate change. However, modern soil science has proved the difficulty of this method. When growers skipped tillage and drilled the seeds into the ground instead, carbon content increased in the upper soil layers but disappeared from lower layers. Hence, soil science experts now believe that this practice redistributes carbon within the soil instead of increasing it. However, it can still enhance other factors like water quality and soil health.

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Ultimately, soil science is vital when it comes to soil properties analysis. Without this knowledge, it would be impossible to track the exact connection between soil and climate change.