Aarhus Universitets segl

The Effects of Aeolian Dust on Soil Functions and Plant Productivity in South Greenland

Main subject area: Aeolian dust source tracking, plant biomass and species, soil water repellency, soil dispersibility, organo-mineral complexation, soil-water retention

Short project description

Rapid warming in Greenland offers a unique opportunity to address agricultural challenges and potentially boost productivity in the region. Currently, much of Greenland's agricultural land suffers from poor soil quality, characterized by nutrient deficiencies, coarse particle sizes, and low pH levels. However, the phenomenon of aeolian transport, where dust from glacial landscapes is carried by wind, could provide a solution by enriching soils and improving productivity.

Aeolian dust, formed as glaciers crush rocks into fine particles, is transported by wind to cultivated areas in South Greenland, potentially replenishing nutrients and enhancing grassland productivity. To investigate this further, five projects have been proposed based on data collected along a dust deposition gradient:

Project 1: Identify the sources of aeolian dust in South Greenland and analyze its composition to understand its impact on soil physicochemical properties (e.g., particle size distribution, pH. nutrients, and cation exchange capacity) across the gradient.

Project 2: Evaluate how varying levels of dust deposition affect above-ground biomass (drone-based NDVI), plant communities, and below-ground microbial diversity (16s rRNA sequencing).

Project 3: Investigate the effect of dust deposition on soil water repellency across the dust deposition gradient.

Project 4: Understand the influence of dust deposition on soil structure and stability (e.g., CT-imagery, organo-mineral complexation, soil dispersibility, gas transport, water retention)

Project 5: Evaluate the link between plant composition, measured climate data, and soil physicochemical properties along the dust gradient. This could for instance include how the dust affects the plant available water throughout the growing season, and how this is reflected in the plant community composition.

Project start

From September 2024 and until January 2025

Physical location of project and students work

Department of Agroecology, AU Viborg

Extent and type of project

30, 45 and 60 ECTS projects are available. 


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