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MSU to Study the Effects of Droughts

MSU to Study the Effects of Droughts

MSU to Study the Effects of Droughts

Biologist Sarah Evans has received a three-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology to study the effect that droughts have on soil and the carbon cycling process—a critical determinant of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and future climate change.

Drought threatens ecosystems and crop production worldwide and will become more frequent in the future. Soils store four times more carbon than plants and animals and emit more carbon than human causes. This ability to store carbon makes soils more fertile and combats climate change by keeping carbon dioxide out of the air. Drought may cause soils to store less carbon. This could become a vicious cycle that affects both climate and agriculture, said Evans, lead investigator on the grant, which began Sept. 1.

Evans and her team will study how soils respond to a lack of rainfall and hope to create predictive models to assist in sustaining ecosystems, crop production and even combatting climate change. 

Grant co-investigators are Steve Allison of UC Irvine and Christine Hawkes of North Carolina State University.

Beneath the Pines: Fall 2020