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U.S. National Committee for Soil Sciences

The U.S. National Committee for Soil Sciences (USNC/SS) represents the interests of the U.S. soil science community in the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) and provides leadership in the advancement of soil science nationally and internationally. The committee advises The National Academies in all matters pertaining to the IUSS and supports U.S. participation in the international arena. To identify relevant issues for the committee to address, the USNC communicates with professional societies and organizations.

What's New   

2018 World Congress in Rio
The 21st World Congress of Soil Science will be held in Rio, Brazil, from August 12--18, 2018. News about abstract submissions, sessions, and nearby attractions will be posted on the website as this information becomes available.

IUSS Celebrates International Decade of Soils -- 2015-2024
Following the highly successful International Year of Soils in 2015, the IUSS is continuing its efforts and activities as we advance toward the 2024 Centenary of the IUSS formation. For a comprehensive list of national and international soils-related events, please visit the International Decade of Soils webpage

International Decade of Soils Logo

"Soils and Society: A Shared Future" Video Highlights Frontier Areas of Soil Science
USNC/Soils Chair Donald Sparks, along with committee members Pedro Sanchez and Diana Wall, discussed the future of soil science and its connection to society at the Soils: the Foundation of Life Workshop held December 5, 2016 at the National Academies Keck Center. Watch the video to learn more:

Media from the December 5, 2016 Soils: The Foundation of Life Workshop Now Available
Visit our workshop subpage to learn more. Additionally, Nora Goldstein, editor of BioCycle Magazine, recently published a piece on her involvement with the Soils workshop, which can be viewed here.

Two New Additions to the World Soils Book Series
Springer Publishing announces two 2017 additions to its World Soils Book Series: The Soils of the USA and The Soils of Wisconsin, both available now for purchase. All books in the World Soils series, according to the website, "summarize what is known about the soils in a particular country in a concise and highly reader-friendly way."

Soil Science Society of America Receives ASAE Award for International Year of Soils
The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) presented the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) with a 2016 Gold Circle Award for its promotion of the International Year of Soils. The Gold Circle awards program highlights excellence in communication among associations and non-profit groups, and recognizes talent in several categories. The SSSA was recognized for achievement in Media/Public Relations/Advocacy.

Several past and present USNC/SS members and staff were involved with the planning and execution of the U.S. activities for the International Year of Soils coordinated by the SSSA. The IYS 2015 website serves as a repository for classroom resources, colorful infographics, social media tips, and an interactive blog.

USNC/IUSS Members Publish Paper in Science Journal
Four members of the USNC on Soil Sciences have published “Soil and human security in the 21st century” in the May 8, 2015 edition of Science. Ronald Amundson (UC Berkeley), Asmeret Asefaw Berhe (UC Merced), Ester Sztein (BISO), and Donald Sparks (University of Delaware), in collaboration with Jan Hopmans (UC Davis) and Carolyn Olson (USDA), contend that human activity is responsible for soil erosion at an unprecedented rate. Understanding these challenges, they argue, is imperative for human survival and stability. Read the University of Delaware and University of California, Merced press releases, or read the full paper here.

Since its release, "Soil and human security in the 21st century" has been cited and reviewed by several publications of note, including:
A list of American and international press on the Science paper can be found here. The paper has also been cited in the October 2015 edition of the Journal of Applied Ecology, and on the Wikipedia page for "Peak Phosphorus."  As of January 29, 2017, the paper has been downloaded a total of 12,165 times from various platforms and the abstract read 41,994 times. In the 1.5 years that the review has been out, it has been cited 96 times (according to Google Scholar). 

"Soil and human security" Author Featured on Radio Program
University of California Merced professor Asmeret Asefaw Berhe appeared on a July 22 radio program to discuss "Soil and human security in the 21st century." Berhe, who collaborated with five other soil scientists on the Science review paper, was a guest on Tom Willey's "Down on the Farm" on Fresno, CA station KFCF 88.1 FM. Listen to the complete interview here.

2015 Declared the International Year of Soils 
In December 2013, the United Nations General Assembly designated December 5 as World Soil Day and declared 2015 as the International Year of Soils (IYS). The designations were made in recognition of sustainable soil management’s essential role in food security, hunger eradication, climate change adaptation, poverty reduction, and sustainable development. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has been nominated to implement the IYS 2015, within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and in collaboration with Governments and the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. More information can be found on the 2015 IYS website, and a comprehensive calendar for IYS events is available on the 2015 IYS events website.


Activities and Events

Soils: The Foundation of Life Workshop
Resource Links
IUSS Webpage

Contact the USNC/SS

Ester Sztein, Assistant Director
Pam Gamble, Administrative Associate

December 16, 2015 AGU Session (PDF):
"Arctic Science Diplomacy: Opportunities for International Collaboration and Policy-Engaged Scholarship" by Ester Sztein and Melody Brown Burkins

February 15, 2014 AAAS Session: “Santa’s Revenge: The Impacts of Arctic Warming on the Mid-Latitudes”

December 12, 2013 AGU Session (PDF): “Science Diplomacy in the Geosciences”

February 15, 2013 AAAS Session: “U.S. Climate and Weather Extremes: Past, Present, and Future"

December 7, 2012 AGU Town Hall (PDF): “International Geoscience”

February 19, 2012 AAAS Session: “Causes and Effects of Relative Sea-Level Changes in the Northeast Pacific"

February 17, 2012 AAAS Session: “Toward Stabilization of Net Global Carbon Dioxide Levels"

February 20, 2011 AAAS Session: “The Practice of Science Diplomacy in the Earth Sciences”

February 19, 2010 AAAS Session: "Dust in the Earth System"

December 17, 2009 AGU Poster Sessions: “Extreme Natural Hazards: Risk Assessment, Forecasting, and Decision Support”

February 16, 2009 AAAS Session: "Global Sea Level Rise: Observation, Causes, and Prediction"

September 25, 2008 BISO Symposium (PDF): “Global Connections among Earth Sciences, Health, and Policy"

February 15, 2008 AAAS Session (PDF): "Planet Earth: Lessons Ignored, Lessons Learned”

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number ICER-1312037. 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 National Science Foundation.

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