Agroecosystem Critical Zone Research Cluster

Ohio Farmland. Source: Cary Lee/

Agroecosystem Critical Processes in a Changing Climate

Climate change accentuates the intricate links between human and natural systems. The thin layer of land, air and water that supports life--Earth's "critical zone"--is under pressure to sustain human populations with food, habitation, energy, and water. This research cluster seeks to identify small- and large-scale impacts of different agricultural practices on the natural soil and water processes, particularly in light of climate change.

This research cluster is one of three groups awarded a 2012 Environmental Sciences Network seed grant to pursue major funding for their ideas.

Organizing Ideas

Various studies have shown that the practical implications of climate change in the North American temperate, agricultural ecoregion will continue to be characterized by extreme weather events. These events, along with rising temperatures, affect hydrological processes that drive soil and land properties critical to activities such as agriculture and grazing. Increasing pressure for efficient land use to meet ever-increasing human demands in turn affect the vulnerability of the ecosystem to extreme events.

As a team comprising a variety of disciplines (soil science; microbial ecology, aqueous geochemistry; hydrology; plant sciences; remote sensing; and systems modeling), this cluster provides an integrated multidisciplinary approach to develop and refine a system-level understanding of the drivers, sensitivities, thresholds and therefore resilience of critical zone services in the face of changing climate, land use and management factors.

Specific research goals include:

  • characterize and model the geological, hydrological, biogeochemical and ecological dynamics of several test sites in Ohio
  • predict resilience of ecosystem services under changing climate and land-use scenarios
  • develop and test management strategies for optimizing sustainability.


Link to Agroecosystems Critical Zone group in our Network Directory.

Anne CareyAnne Carey
Earth Science
614 292-2375

Warren DickWarren Dick
Environment and Natural Resources
330 263-3877

Sarah FortnerSarah Fortner
Dept. of Geology, Wittenberg University
(937) 327-7328

Kristin JaegerKristin Jaeger
School of Environment & Natural Resources
330 263-3661

Rattan LalRattan Lal
Environment and Natural Resources
614 292-9069

Berry LyonsBerry Lyons
Geological Sciences
614 688-3241

Frank SchwartzFrank Schwartz
Earth Science
614 292-6196

Gajan SivandranGajan Sivandran
Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering
614 292-6420


Climate Water Carbon logo.

Climate, Water & Carbon Program
A collaboration of more than 50 scientists and policy researchers from a variety of research fields at The Ohio State University dedicated to the study of abrupt global climate change and related impacts.

Carbon Management and Sequestration Center website

Carbon Management and Sequestration Center
The Center conducts research, teaching and extension activities that address basic and applied issues of carbon dynamics in relation to the accelerated greenhouse effect.

Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center (OARDC) website

Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center (OARDC)
Research, development, and commercialization of agricultural products with particular focus on bioenergy, biobased products, environmental quality and sustainability, food security and production.


Berry LyonsBerry Lyons
Geological Sciences
614 688-3241