PROGRAM TITLE:  	Soil Landscape Models
ACTIVITY STREAMS: 	Observe/Data Mgt; Process; Models
SCIENCE ELEMENT:  	Earth System History

 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Soil Conservation Service

DESCRIPTION:  Interactions of soils as critical hydrologic components of 
small watersheds is, in part, dependent on the properties that have developed 
and been preserved in the various soils throughout the watershed. The 
spatial distribution of soil features and their relationship to the evolutionary 
processes of the total landscape hold the key to relating phenomena to 
climates of past periods.  Most models of soil genesis (formation) are 
qualitative, thus quantifying them is an important process in developing 
further relevant relationships and to assist in predicting consequences of 
different climate scenarios.

Soil genesis, landscape hydrology, and paleo soil studies will enable us to 
develop preliminary paleo-soil maps. Such information assists 
biogeochemical cycle modelers and biological response modelers who need, 
or want, to extrapolate current results backward in time and space.  The kind, 
pattern, and time of formation of near-surface stratigraphy in pilot test areas 
will support broader extrapolations.

STAKEHOLDERS: The soil science community doesn't have a basic 
framework on which to hang the pieces of their soil genesis research.  This 
will enable them to develop a more coherent view of how, where, and why 
soils have developed over time and space in the United States.  Learning 
more about small landscape hydrology allows more reliable interpretations 
for proposed or implemented mitigation practices that are soil, or soil-related. 
The U.S. lags rather far behind our European colleagues in the modeling of 
soils and landscapes.

SHORT-TERM POLICY PAYOFFS:  Prior responses of soils to climate and 
other global changes occurred but the degree of certainty of the effects is less 
well known.  The scientific community still has a ways to go to assess the 
short-term value for policy makers.  Earth system history will be the glue that 
holds the stories of change together in time and in space, however, that is a 
longer-term payoff.