The increased aridity expected this century as a result of climate change may disrupt the balance of key soil nutrients with a knock-on effect on soil fertility threatening livelihoods of more than two billion people, a study finds.
The drop in nitrogen and carbon concentrations that occurs as soils become dryer could have serious effects on ecosystem services such as food production, carbon storage and biodiversity, according to the Nature paper published today.
Loss of nitrogen and carbon, which are the basic building blocks of living organisms, drastically affects land’s productivity, says Fernando T. Maestre, a biologist and geologist from King Juan Carlos University, Spain, and a co-author of the report.
“If plant productivity is reduced, the capability of the land to support livestock and crops will be affected and this will have a big impact on people who depend on them,” he tells SciDev.Net.
Drylands make up more than 40 per cent of the world’s land area, and host a similar proportion of the world’s population. Many are expected to get drier because of climate change.
Brown Mang Onwuka