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Federal Grant Will Help Researchers Study Changing Soil Structure

A new Boise State University study funded by a grant of more than $700,000 from the National Science Foundation will look at the influence of changing soil structures on water resources in the United States.

Alejandro Flores, an associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, is a co-investigator on a team that includes researchers from the University of Kansas, the University of California, Riverside, and Pennsylvania State University.

Boise State’s role in the project, said Flores, will be to examine how rapid changes in soil properties might affect water availability and runoff across the continental U.S.

To do this, Boise State researchers will develop a series of experiments with a computational tool that will evaluate how much less water soils can take in as their characteristics change, then assess where that water ultimately will go.

“These potential changes in the physical properties of soil are an unanticipated consequence of a changing climate and they could have important ramifications for everything from crop productivity, wildland fire and flooding,” said Flores. “It’s important that we understand those ramifications and identify where we need to improve our fundamental understanding of soil systems.”