Carbon and nitrogen in soils varies worldwide, but concerns are being raised about the release rates of these nutrients due to global warming. It has been hypothesized in previous studies that carbon is released as the soils warms and microorganisms respire more. Similarly, aspects of the nitrogen cycle may also speed up due to increased metabolism from bacteria. If large amounts of carbon are released from soil storages, it could cause large feedback loops in the climate cycle. Most soil warming experiments heat the soil 1-5 degrees C warmer over a period of years, to simulate global warming. Our study heats soil samples from a California Oak Woodland 60 degrees C warmer over a period of days, to see if extreme heating has any effect on carbon and nitrogen storages in the soil. Although our control samples matched expected values of carbon and nitrogen for an Oak Woodlands soil, the heated samples did not show any significant change in soil carbon or nitrogen. Further study is needed to draw a conclusion, and so the experiment will be continued by studying West Coast Temperate Forest soil samples under extreme heating for several months.


Chris Potter

Lab site

NASA Ames Research Center (ARC)

Funding Acknowledgement

The 2018 STEM Teacher and Researcher Program and this project have been made possible through support from Chevron (www.chevron.com), the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (www.marinesanctuary.org), the National Science Foundation through the Robert Noyce Program under Grant #1836335 and 1340110, the California State University Office of the Chancellor, and California Polytechnic State University in partnership with NASA Ames Research Center. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funders.



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/star/505


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