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ISMC News 8th February 2021


ISMC Publication Award 2020: Deadline 28th Feb.

ISMC Publication Award 2020 will be awarded to honour outstanding peer-reviewed publication of the Year #2020. Nominators: ISMC members. Nominees can be all, except ISMC Executive Board. Justification for Nomination and DOI (with title and abstract) need to be included.


Room for improvement: A review and evaluation of 24 soil thermal conductivity parameterization schemes commonly used in land-surface, hydrological, and soil-vegetation-atmosphere transfer models.

Effective thermal conductivity of soils (λeff) is a critical parameter for agriculture, environment science, and engineering. Functions to estimate λeff from readily available soil properties, known as soil thermal conductivity (STC) schemes, are needed by land-surface models (LSMs), hydrological models, and soil-vegetation-atmosphere transfer (SVAT) models to study the land surface energy balance, heat flux, and soil thermal regime under various climates and geographic regions. The selection of a STC scheme can result in large differences in temperature estimates in LSMs, sometimes masking the effects of climate change. Therefore, accurate selection of a STC scheme is critically important to LSM estimates. Although a number of STC schemes have been incorporated in various LSMs, no study has systematically evaluated their performance. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to review and evaluate STC schemes employed by LSMs by comparing (1) predicted and measured STCs and (2) modelled land surface temperature (LST) using the Community Land Model at three selected sites and the corresponding LST data from the moderate resolution imaging spectrometer (MODIS). In total, 24 STC schemes were collated from 38 mainstream LSMs, SVAT, and hydrological models. They were divided into three categories based on model types: one physically-based scheme, eight linear/non-linear regression schemes, and 13 normalized schemes. We also include two schemes that express STC as a function of matric potential (ψ, hereafter referred as λeff (ψ) schemes). The first three types of STC schemes were evaluated with a large compiled dataset consisting of 439 unfrozen and frozen measurements of λeff from 16 soils. The λeff (ψ) schemes were evaluated with simultaneously measured λeff (ψ) from eight soils from two separate or independent studies. Results showed that none of the STC schemes could be used to accurately predict λeff for all soil types. STC scheme performance largely depended on the size (number of samples) and characteristics (e.g., soil types) of the data used for comparison. Some STC schemes work well on certain types of soils, but care should be taken for larger scale applications. LSM simulated LST for 24 STC schemes varied when compared with MODIS LST. In general, the STC schemes performed better in medium- and coarse-textured soils than in fine-textured soils. However, large discrepancies were observed on the estimated LST using different STC schemes for medium and coarse-textured soils. We recommend that LSM modelers be mindful of the inherent bias in STC schemes on the surface temperature estimates and hence overall model predictions. Orchestrated efforts are urgently needed on the part of the soil science, hydrology, and climatology communities to develop a more extensive and systematic λeff database for development and evaluation of improved STC schemes for wider and more accurate applications.

Abstract Figure: Performance measures of the 24 soil thermal conductivity schemes on soil surface temperature at 0.01 m modelling in three sites with soil texture of clay, loam and sand using Community Land Model 4.5 (CLM). STC schemes including four types of the de Vries (1963) with different parameterizations (DV1963I ~ IV), KM1949 (Kersten, 1949), DV1975 (de Vries, 1975), CS1981 (Camillo and Schmugge, 1981), CS1984 (Cass et al., 1984), CG1985 (Campbell, 1985), CH1987 (Chung and Horton, 1987), BB1992 (Becker et al., 1992), HL1998 (Hubrechts, 1998), JO1975 (Johansen, 1975), FO1981 (Farouki, 1981), LV1981 (Lunardini, 1981), VD1991 (Verseghy, 1991), DP1998 (Desborough and Pitman, 1998), PL1998 (Peters-Lidard et al., 1998), SA1998 (Shmakin, 1998), CM1999 (Cox et al., 1999), CK2005 (Côté and Konrad, 2005), LS2008 (Lawrence and Slater, 2008), DI2009 (Dharssi et al., 2009), LS2009 (Luo et al., 2009b), CS2015 (Chadburn et al., 2015), MP1981 (McCumber and Pielke, 1981), and KL1983 (Kutchment et al., 1983).


Commission consults on new EU Soil Strategy

The European Commission has launched an online public consultation on the development of a new EU Soil Strategy. This is the last of a set of public consultations on different ecosystems delivering on the specific commitments in the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030
Healthy soils produce our food and raw materials, clean our drinking water, reduce flood risks and store huge amounts of carbon. They are essential for achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal such as climate neutrality, biodiversity restoration, zero pollution, healthy and sustainable food systems and a resilient environment. Yet our soils are degrading due to unsustainable management, overexploitation, climate change and pollution. For that reason, the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 announced the adoption of a new Soil Strategy in 2021.

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said:
A quarter of our planet’s biodiversity is present in soil. This is literally a treasure under our feet, and our food and our future depend on it. We must equip the European Union with a robust soil policy that will allow us to reach our ambitious climate, biodiversity and food security goals, and step up our efforts to manage soil in a way that it can deliver for people, biodiversity and climate.
The aim of the new EU Soil Strategy will be to address soil- and land-related issues in a comprehensive way and to help achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030, one of the key targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It will look into how to protect soil fertility, reduce erosion and increase soil organic matter. The strategy will consider challenges such as identifying contaminated sites, restoring degraded soils, defining the conditions for their good ecological status and improving the monitoring of soil quality.
In addition, the strategy will take into account the EU’s international commitments, feeding into the EU position at the upcoming global biodiversity negotiations in COP 15 of the UN Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD), as soils are home to more than 25 percent of our planet's biodiversity. Actions related to soil and land are as well priorities under  the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the FAO’ Global Soil Partnership and more broadly for EU external action and development cooperation.
Based on the Roadmap on a new Soil Strategy, the consultation seeks stakeholders’ input on challenges and opportunities regarding our land and soils ecosystems which deliver valuable services such as the provision of food, energy and raw materials, carbon sequestration, water purification and infiltration, nutrient regulation, pest control and recreation.
Other public consultations are taking place in parallel on ‘nature restoration targets’, on ‘Zero Pollution Ambition for air, water and soil’, on ‘Land Use, Land‑use Change and Forestry — review of EU rules’, and the new EU Forest Strategy.
Through this public consultation, the Commission invites citizens and organisations to contribute to the preparation of the new EU Soil Strategy and share their views on potential objectives and actions. It will remain open for feedback for 12 weeks until 27 April 2021.

More information
Soil and Land in the EU
Public consultation on the ‘EU Action Plan Towards a Zero Pollution Ambition for air, water and soil
Public consultation on ‘nature restoration targets
Public consultation on the ‘new EU Forest Strategy
Public consultation on ‘Land Use, Land‑use Change and Forestry — review of EU rules’



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