Merced Soil Chronosequence work to unravel how weathering and soil mineralogy control response of soil carbon to warming

We studied a 100s to 3 million yrs soil chronosequence preserved in alluvial terrace deposits of the Merced River, CA to unravel how soil mineralogy affects soil carbon storage and succeptibility to warming. This study was recently published in Nature Geoscience.

Link to the article on Nature Geoscience website 

See also the UC Merced Press Release about the article at this link

Asmeret selected as a National Academies New Voice in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

Asmeret is selected to serve as an inaugural member of the Academies’ newest initiative — New Voices in Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (SEM). The New Voices in SEM “will engage in communicating the evidence base for addressing national and global challenges to provide new perspectives on issues of importance to the community represented by the National Academies, and to help identify ways to expand the diversity of expertise that is brought to all of the Academies’ convening and advisory activities.”

See, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Press release

UC Merced Press Release is also available at“new-voice”-science

Kimber receives UC-Lab FEES fellowship

Ph.D. Candidate Kimber Moreland received a UC-Lab FEES fellowship for a two-year in residence fellowship at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). This highly competitive award will support Kimber on her dissertation research on “Climatic Controls of Subsoil Organic Carbon Dynamics” that is taking place at the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory. During her fellowship, Kimber will be co-mentored by Dr. Karis McFarlane at the Atmospheric, Earth and Energy Division and Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (CAMS) at LLNL.

UC Catalyst award to study carbon dynamics in CA agricultural soils

Our team received one of the four 2016 recipients of the President’s Research Catalyst Awards for our proposed work on: “California Drought and Carbon Management for Agriculture,” $1.69 million, PI: Sam Ying (UC Riverside) and co-PIs  Asmeret Asefaw Berhe and Teamrat Ghezzehei (UC Merced), Kate Scow and Sanjai Parikh (UC Davis), Eoin Brodie, Peter Nico, Margaret Torn, Bill Riley (LBNL)

California agriculture, a backbone of the state’s economy, faces enormous challenges as access to a predictable water supply declines and becomes unpredictable. Soil quality or “soil health” is critical to how crops respond to climate variability. Vanguard research in the soil microbiome holds promise for understanding soil-carbon dynamics. In this project, collaborators bring their wealth of soil science knowledge and experience to examine how crops respond to drought using varying farming practices and irrigation methods.

This award is a major recognition for the quality of soil science research we are doing at UC Merced, and it positions Professor Ghezzehei and myself to play even bigger roles in demonstrating the critical part soils play in food security and climate change adaptation in California and beyond,” Berhe said. She co-wrote a paper for the prestigious journal Science this spring talking about the role of soils in human security.

The water in soil is critical to microbial community dynamics, carbon storage and plant productivity,” Ghezzehei said. “Improved understanding of the feedbacks between climate variability — including drought, El Niño and associated changes in precipitation and air temperature — and soil-water availability is essential for success and sustainability of agriculture and all terrestrial ecosystems. Specifically, as part of this work, we will study mechanisms of how changes in climate and water availability in agricultural systems affect soil aggregate dynamics and the carbon-sequestration potential of agricultural soils.”

Read the full story from UC Merced communications at this link

Biogeochemistry lab manager position at UC Merced

The Berhe Biogeochemistry lab at the University of California, Merced ( ) has an opening for a part-time lab manager. The lab manager will be responsible for day-to-day management of the lab; composing, review and verification of lab and field protocols and reports; maintain and troubleshoot instruments and equipment including GC, IR bench, etc; and providing instruction and assistance to lab users on technically complex procedures, equipment & instruments. For the motivated individual with the right experience, there is also opportunity to conduct original research.
The minimum qualification for the job is a BSc degree in soil science, ecology, geology or related fields with at least 2 years of research experience or equivalent lab experience during undergraduate or graduate experience.
Individuals with proficiency in use of FTIR on environmental samples; strong written and oral communication skills; and supervisory or project management experience are strongly encouraged to apply.

Details of the position are available at here

Interested applicants should send Asmeret ( your CV and a short cover letter before submitting your application.
The position is available immediately.

Erin’s paper published in Biogeosciences

Erin’s firth paper was published in Biogeosciences. Among other things, this study shows that, in the Southern Sierra Nevada, annual rates of sediment export (for the time period between 2005 and 2011) varied from 0.4 to 177 kg/ha, while export of C in sediment was between 0.025 and 4.2 kg C/ha and export of N in sediment was between 0.001 and 0.04 kg N/ha. Sediment yield and composition showed high interannual vaScreenshot 2015-08-19 17.00.00riation. In our study catchments, erosion laterally mobilized OM-rich litter material and topsoil, some of which enters streams owing to the catchment topography where steep slopes border stream channels.The OM-rich nature of eroded sediment raises important questions about the fate of the eroded OM. If a large fraction of the soil organic matter (SOM) eroded from forest ecosystems is lost during transport or after deposition, the contribution of forest ecosystems to the erosion-induced C sink is likely to be small (compared to croplands and grasslands). Read more here.

This work was conducted as part of the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory Project.

Asmeret discusses ‘Soil and Human security’ on Down on the Farm with Tom Willey on KFCF 88.1 FM

Asmeret had the pleasure to be a guest on Tom Willey’s radio program – Down on the Farm with Tom Willey on KFCF 88.1 FM in Fresno, CA. Listen to the whole interview below:

Screenshot 2015-07-22 14.15.02

As Tom, the host, put it: “Soil is the living epidermis of the planet.” So begins Soil and Human Security in the 21st Century, an extraordinarily important article, written by a half-dozen soil scientists, which appeared in May 8th’s journal Science, the New York Times of scientific publications. By declaring 2015 International Year of Soils, the United Nations General Assembly hopes to make all peoples aware that management of six-inches of top soil underlies any civilization’s prosperity and survival. One author of that clarion call for soil stewardship, UC Merced soil biogeochemist Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, engages with “Down on the Farm”

New paper in Science: Soils and Human Security in the 21st century

Asmeret is a co-author on a newly released paper in Science on “Soil and Human Security in the 21st century.” see link to article from Science Megazine 

Read press Releases about this paper from:

Among other outlets, the paper was also covered by:

Congratulations to our amazing lab members – awards, funding!

We are lucky to have an amazing group of folks in the Berhe lab whose works have been recognized by awards of competitive funding over the last couple of months. Congratulations to:

  1. Morgan Barnes for receiving: i) the Institute for the Study of Ecological Effects of Climate Impacts (ISEECI) Graduate Student Researcher Fellowship; and ii) the Bobcat Summer Fellowship
  2. Lixia Jin for receiving the Bobcat Summer Fellowship
  3. Kimber Moreland for receiving the Critical Zone Observatory’s Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) Summer Fellowship
  4. Ben Lash for receiving the 2015-16 Health Science Fellowship,
  5. Alex Newman for receiving the Carbon Neutrality Fellowship, and
  6. Fernanda Santos for being a finalist for the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship