FR-3 :: Knowledge, functions, distribution and evolution of soils

In its report of 13 February 2012 on the implementation of the strategy (COM 2012 46 final), the European Commission deplores that ""knowledge on the status and quality of soils remains fragmented and that the protection of soil is not assured in an efficient and consistent way in all states members."" (CGEDD, 2015). In France, it remains several scientific, methodological or instrumental barriers concerning knowledge on functioning and spatio-temporal dynamics of soil (White book on soils 2013-2015, CNRS). For this purpose a major transverse axis adopted in the French “proposals for a national sustainable soil management framework” (CGEDD, 2015) covers the theme “Improve knowledge on soils”. Moreover, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) has counted about 100,000 ha of sites with historical pollutant activities in urban areas in 2014. Thus, a critical and socially sensitive issue of knowledge on soils deals with the behaviour of pollutants in these sites. Knowledge in line following Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) is a way to ensure knowledge transfer to operational actors. This is the role of scientists to ensure such transfer since they are responsible for knowledge and methodology (Synthesis and recommendations for contaminated soil research (ADEME, 2015).
Specific research questions (following the conceptual model of INSPIRATION)
Natural capital
• Better knowledge of natural environment, kinetics of pollutants transfer in soils (in particular urban soils), development of models integrating all the critical zone compartments (biological, mineral, atmosphere, hydrosphere).
• Why: the spatial diversity of soils in France is strength to improve and federate knowledge on soils. In situ monitoring is a way to acquire data for this purpose.
• Characterization and evaluation of the hazard of new pollutants (emerging / persistent) especially in groundwater. Characterization of diffuse pollution: on line monitoring, in situ metrology, integrative/passive sampling.
Why: there is a sanitary challenge to understand the behaviour of these pollutants in soils and groundwater.
Land Management
• Demonstration sites to accelerate technological developments, verify the efficiency of treatment techniques and their validity in term of user’s expectations; It could be also a communication channel to prove innovation realty to end-users.
Why: beyond the technology improvements addressed by this topic, it responds also to a societal need of knowledge on the sensitive question of polluted soils.
Net impacts
Long-term observatories of the critical zone, allow the study of the spatial and temporal dynamics of the processes (ecosystem resilience, retroaction of the biological organisms on soil-sediment-water system and climate), facilitate inter-disciplinary approaches and promote exchanges among local authorities.
Why: general knowledge on long-term behaviour of the critical zone can support various local policy options.
• Improve knowledge on soils, particularly from a national scheme of soil data (to develop), networking of data producers and managers, pooling methods and development tools, as well as facilitate access to data.
Why: knowledge on soils remains fragmented.