U.S.-China conference, short course to focus on Critical Zone science, soil carbon

July 27, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University will host a conference bringing together scientists from the U.S. and China to address global challenges involving the Earth's Critical Zone.

The annual conference of the U.S.-China EcoPartnership for Environmental Sustainability will be held Oct. 22-24 at the Beck Agricultural Center in West Lafayette and the Holiday Inn Lafayette-City Center.

This is the first time that earth scientists from the U.S. and China will meet for a dedicated Critical Zone workshop in the U.S., said Timothy Filley, professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences and director of the U.S.-China EcoPartnership.

The Critical Zone can be thought of as the Earth's skin - the land surface that extends from the top of the plant canopy to the bottom of aquifers. Rapid growth in human population, shifts in dietary habits and climate change are putting mounting pressure on the Critical Zone, especially in emerging economies such as China's.

"International coordination and collaboration in Critical Zone science is crucial to understanding the factors that control dynamics across the planet's varied landscapes and geology that support society," Filley said.

A number of Critical Zone Observatory networks exist worldwide, with the National Science Foundation funding 10 CZOs in the U.S.

The conference will address global challenges to Critical Zone functions, identify common questions and present measures to facilitate networked Critical Zone research with specific emphasis on systems in the U.S. and China. The NSF, Purdue's Global Engineering Program, Confucius Institute and the Discovery Park Global Sustainability Institute provided funding for the event.

"The ramping up of natural resource extraction from terrestrial systems - such as groundwater extraction for irrigation, agriculture and surface mining - is occurring at a breakneck pace," Filley said. "In many cases, extraction is carried out without enough knowledge of the limits and capacity of ecosystems, water resources, air and soil quality and surface geology."

An optional short course on how runoff and erosion affect carbon levels in soil will precede the conference on Oct. 20-21. The course will provide training on how to use instrumentation and measurements to quantify carbon dynamics in intensively managed agricultural landscapes. It will also examine organic matter flux, stabilization and reactivity in Critical Zone science and sustainability. The Consortium for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc., provided funding for the course. 

Up to 120 participants can register for the conference. The cost is $100. Local transportation between the airport and hotel and meals for the duration of the conference will be provided with registration. The conference organizing committee will consider requests for financial assistance. The short course can accommodate up to 20 participants, and registration details will be posted on the conference website.

Registration for the conference and short course and more details are available at www.conf.purdue.edu/criticalzones.

Filley recommended that participants from China request letters for visa applications as soon as possible.

All sessions will be in English. 

Writer:  Natalie van Hoose, 765-496-2050, nvanhoos@purdue.edu

Source: Timothy Filley, 765-494-6581, filley@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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