Weathering is the environmental process by which the earth’s bedrock is broken down to create soil. This is crucial to the long-term\sustainability of soil which is under threat from environmental change and human pressures from food production and expanding\cities. The WUN links key international teams and consortia in this field and establishes weathering science as a major priority for soil research in the US, UK and EU.
The Worldwide Universities Network is an international alliance of research led universities. A major aim of the WUN is to pool academic resources to tackle global research challenges that are beyond the scope of the single institution or even groups within nations. Many of these challenges are of such importance that they require international teams and multiple funding sources to make serious headway The pressure on natural resources is one such issue.
The long-term\sustainability of soils is under threat from environmental change and human pressures from food production and expanding\cities. Weathering is the environmental process by which the earth’s bedrock is broken down to create soil. The WUN has been instrumental to link key international teams and consortia that are already established in this field. This has resulted in weathering and soils research as a major priority in the EU, the US, the UK and elsewhere. WUN partner institutions are key players in three such funded consortia:
Biological Weathering in Earth Systems a UK NERC funded consortium (WUN members comprising Sheffield, Bristol, and Leeds, with Penn State as a named US partner). This research studies the role of plants and soil micro-organisms to chemically break down rock to provide nutrients to ecosystems and to form new soil.
Soil Crit Zone an EU funded consortium (WUN members comprising Bristol and Sheffield, with a range of partners from the EU, again with Penn State as a named US partner). This EC Support Action draws together a wide range of research activities across Europe and worldwide. This is to develop a framework to manage the entire life cycle of soil and provide information for new policy on soil management.
Critical Zone Exploration Network (CZEN) a major US consortium a network of people, sites, tools, and ideas to investigate processes within the Critical Zone (all fluid, mineral, gaseous, and biotic components from the outer envelope of vegetation down to the lower limits of groundwater that supports all life on Earth). Penn State is a leading member of CZEN.