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Resilience of upland soils to long-term environmental changes

The authors surveyed the effect of environmental change on mountain soils. They found that soils were resistant to large changes in the environmental pressures experienced and conclude that upland soils may be more resilient to environmental change than previously thought. This study was conducted at Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), North Wales and used some ECN data.
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McGovern, ST., Evans, CD., Dennis, P., Walmsley, CA., Turner, A. and McDonald, MA. (2013). Resilience of upland soils to long-term environmental changes. GEODERMA, 197, 36-42.

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The effect of long-term changes in land-use, pollution deposition and climate change on upland soils was evaluated by resurveying a large set of sites in a mountain landscape in the UK, which were initially sampled forty years ago. Unexpectedly, despite the length of time between sampling dates, no significant changes in pH, soil exchangeable base cations or C and N percentage content by weight were observed across a range of soil type and parent material. This suggests that the soils have been relatively resistant to the large changes in the environmental pressures experienced in the past forty years, which include a 1.5 °C increase in mean temperature; the peak of UK sulphur deposition in around 1970, followed by ~ 90% deposition reduction; long-term increases in nitrogen deposition; and major changes in grazing intensity. These results suggest that upland soils may be considerably more resilient to the future environmental changes than many previous assessments have suggested.

Note: this study was funded by the Environmental Change University partnership (ECUP).