SOCR400 class in the field

SOCR400: Soils and Global Change: Impacts and Solutions

The Earth system is undergoing continuous changes, which have profound impacts on soils and soil processes, as well as on the capacity of soils to support demand for food, fibre and energy. Soils and climate change are tightly linked in a series of feedback mechanisms for which understanding is critical to sustainably manage the world soils. Regenerative soil management can thus become one of the solutions to climate change and sustainable food production.  

A successful student will be able to:

  • Describe the main components and drivers of soil biogeochemistry
  • Describe current and projected global changes, their effects on soils, and potential feedbacks.
  • Understand and discuss the state-of-the art methods available for the study of soil biogeochemistry and the effects of climate and land use change on soils.
  • Use Excel to analyze data from a basic experiment and produce a data report.
  • Discuss sustainable soil management options for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Develop and evaluate conceptual models.
  • Read and synthetize scientific literature.
  • Write a short scientific paper to articulate and substantiate proposed hypothesis.
book cover

SOCR670: Terrestrial Ecosystem Isotope Ecology

This course is meant to bring together students from different backgrounds who share the common interest of exploring new methods for their research. In fact, it will guide students to think “isotopically” and provide them with basic practical skills to apply isotope methods in their research. In the first part of the course, during lectures, students will learn about isotopes and isotope notation, principle of mass spectrometry and laser spectroscopy, isotope fractionation, mixing and enrichment. In parallel, during lab, students will gain experience with handling isotope data, convert from one unit into another, build and solve mass balance equations and keeling plots. This phase will terminate with a midterm exam, in the form of a short questions assignment to be taken at home, closed book. In the second part of the course, during lectures students will learn how isotopes distribute naturally in the biogeochemical cycles and will be presented with several different areas of study, with a focus on biosphere-atmosphere interactions in terrestrial ecosystems, where isotope methods can be applied. This part of the course will mainly present case studies and, in addition to the instructor lectures, guest lectures and recitations of published relevant work will be used to expose students to the state-of-the art knowledge in isotope research. During labs, students will be trained to the analyses of solid and gas samples by Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS). The overall course will stimulate students to develop their ideas on how to incorporate isotope approaches in their research. This will be further achieved by the assignment, as final exam, to write a research proposal on their area of interest, where isotope methodologies are used.