Papanicolaou to Examine Impacts of Land Use and Climate Change

Monday, June 4, 2012

By Gary Galluzzo
University of Iowa

A University of Iowa researcher and his colleagues will use a three-year, $641,737 NASA grant to help establish a program of national stature for carbon cycle studies in intense agricultural systems.

portrait of Thanos Papanicolaou
Thanos Papanicolaou.
Photo courtesy of IIHR.


The program’s soil erosion studies will be led by co-principal investigator Thanos Papanicolaou, Donald E. Bently Faculty Fellow of Engineering, professor of civil and environmental engineering, faculty research engineer at IIHR–Hydroscience and Engineering, and researcher in the UI Center for Global and Environmental Research. The principal investigator on the project is Ramanathan Sugumaran, professor of geography at the University of Northern Iowa.

The program will bring together scientists from four departments at two Iowa universities, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Laboratory for Agriculture and Environment, to investigate the impact of land-use changes and associated agricultural practices on soil organic carbon sequestration (storage) potential. The goal is to provide better estimates of future trends in carbon dioxide emissions, first within Iowa and the Midwest and later, in other parts of the nation.

In particular, climate change together with intensive agricultural activity— such as increased crop production to meet increased demand for biofuels —may lead to soil erosion, thereby creating choices for farmers, policymakers, and others. The information provided by the research team will help officials to make decisions to mitigate unfavorable conditions.

The program is part of the NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). For more information on the program, see the Iowa EPSCoR website.