The Role of Runoff and Erosion on Soil Carbon Stocks: From Soilscapes to Landscapes

CUAHSI Short Course Overview

This CUAHSI Instrumentation Training course is designed to inform its participants about the state-of-the-art instrumentation and measurements that are available for quantifying carbon dynamics in Intensively Managed Landscapes (IMLs) from the soil profile scale to the landscape scale. This course will examine the key processes that define carbon budget in IMLs, which include erosion, litter incorporation into the soil profile, microbial activity/ respiration, and stabilization in aggregates.

To capture the effects of runoff and erosion on soil organic carbon stocks, we will measure enrichment ratios using a mobile unit of rainfall simulators to break apart the soil aggregates and mobilize the sediment. We will also use Visible Near InfraRed Spectroscopy to quantify the carbon concentrations in the soil. Radio Frequency IDs will be used to track the movement of litter across the soil surface and its incorporation into the soil matrix. Respiration and microbial activity will be monitored using a soil gas analyzer with in-situ chambers and elemental soil analysis, plus an infrared camera can measure changes in associated heat fluxes. Finally, we will quantify aggregate stability using the rainfall simulators to measure the strength of the soil.

Additionally the students will be exposed to small fixed-wing and quadrotor style unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with sensor payloads currently being used in the IML-CZO. Other UAV-based sensors, such as thermal imaging for characterizing vegetation, and emerging robotics technologies, including unmanned ground and surface vehicles will be demonstrated for hydrologic and environmental data collection.

This course is being offered in conjunction with the Joint Conference and Workshop on Organic Matter Flux and Stabilization in the Critical Zone hosted by the US-China EcoPartnership for Environmental Sustainability.

CUAHSI Short Course Instructors

Name Affiliation E-mail
Thanos Papanicolaou University of Tennessee
Christopher Wilson University of Tennessee
Joshua Peschel University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Tim Filley Purdue University

Course prerequisites

  • Applied Hydrology
  • Environmental Physics of Soil, water, and watersheds
  • Soil organic matter
  • Experimental hydrology/hydraulics & analytical methods

Other information

Maximum Number of Participants


The "Ideal" student

Graduate students and early career scientists with backgrounds in hydropedology, soil erosion, soil biogeochemistry, ecology, field methods, modeling, sensor technology, and/or analytical methods.

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (765) 494-4600

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