Carbon in the soil is broken down naturally and released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas. However, as the air temperature increases, this process occurs more quickly, which means too much gas is produced, adding to the atmospheric trap, and consequently to global warming.

Soil can also produce other harmful ‘greenhouse’ gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. Waterlogged soils and flooded soils in particular are responsible for producing methane.

Soil scientists are currently developing new ways of reducing the amount of these gases escaping into the atmosphere, in an effort to reduce their impact on our environment.

The change in temperature and rainfall patterns is also damaging the physical structure of soils. The organic matter in particular is being affected, its balance being crucial to the nutrient balance of the soil, its stability, the amount of water it can hold, and the populations of soil organisms. Additionally, the changes are likely to leave some soils more vulnerable to damage by erosion.


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