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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   

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

Events associated with the World Soil Day and the International Year of Soils (IYS) have included:

  • December 2-5, 2014: The Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI) and EcoFINDERS organized the First GSBI Conference - Assessing Soil Biodiversity and its Role for Ecosystem Services, in Dijon, France. This conference provided a venue to discuss current research efforts in soil biodiversity and its links to earth processes, as well as promote interdisciplinary collaboration. 
  • December 5, 2014: This event marked the formal launch of the IYS. It was organized during the 69th session of the UN General Assembly, to coincide with the first official World Soil Day. Concurrent events were organized at FAO headquarters in Rome, Bangkok, and elsewhere in the world. 
A comprehensive calendar for IYS events can be found online on the 2015 IYS events website.

Can there be Security without Soils?: September 18, 2015 - USNC/SS and SSSA Workshop

The U.S. National Committee for Soil Sciences (USNC/SS) is joining forces with the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) to celebrate the International Year of Soils (IYS) by hosting a Washington, DC workshop: Can there be Security without Soils? The workshop will be held at the National Academy of Sciences on September 18, 2015. The goals of this event are to increase awareness of the complexity of soils and their great importance beyond agriculture and to examine the societal links that exist between soils and health, water, climate change, food, environment, the economy, military infrastructure, and national security. More details will be announced closer to the event date.

Past Activities

20th World Congress of Soil Science, Jeju Island, Korea

The 20th World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) was held in Korea at the Jeju International Convention Center from June 8-13, 2014. A highlight of the event was the election of Rattan Lal (The Ohio State University) as President of IUSS. He will serve as President-Elect until 2017. For more information, please visit the 20th WCSS website.

The Wilford Gardner World Congress of Soil Science Fellowship Program provided financial assistance for 12 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at U.S. institutions who made presentations at the 20th WCSS. More details can be found in the Soil Science Society of America’s news release, “Graduate and Postdoctoral Students Present Papers at World Congress of Soil Science.” 

2014 AAAS Symposium - “Santa’s Revenge: The Impacts of Arctic Warming on the Mid-Latitudes” - February 15, 2014
This symposium examined high-latitude changes linked to mid-latitude weather and the effect of these complex phenomena on freshwater resources, food availability, and national security. This event was spearheaded by the U.S. National Committee for Geodesy and Geophysics, and co-sponsored by the U.S. National Committees for INQUA, Soil Sciences, and Geological Sciences. An audio file of the symposium, the presentations given by each speaker, and a list of media coverage can be found on the 2014 Santa's Revenge archive page.
“Good Mentors Are Made, Not Born: A Mentor/Mentee Primer” Session
On November 5th, the USNC/SS co-organized the session “Good Mentors Are Made, Not Born: A Mentor/Mentee Primer” at the 2013 ASA, CSSA, and SSSA International Annual Meetings. The purpose of this session, sponsored by the SSSA’s Early Career Member Committee, was to present mentoring best practices. The session provided participants with a primer on common mentoring issues and gave attendees tips for the improvement of their mentoring skills. More information on this event can be found on the session’s webpage.

"Soil-mediated Drivers of Coupled Biogeochemical and Hydrological Processes Across Scales": 21-24 October, 2013
The USNC/SS co-organized an AGU Chapman Conference on “Soil-mediated Drivers of Coupled Biogeochemical and Hydrological Processes Across Scales.” This Chapman Conference brought together scientists from soil systems sciences, hydrology, and biogeochemistry to discuss recent findings dealing with the role and importance of coupled hydrological and biogeochemical processes occurring in the soil system and its interfaces with adjacent compartments. This four-day conference consisted of oral sessions, a poster session, four open workshop spaces, and a wrap up session. More information, including a list of speakers and contributors, is available at the conference website.

Activities and Events
Resource Links
IUSS Webpage

Contact the USNC/SS

Ester Sztein, Assistant Director
Pam Gamble, Administrative Associate

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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