NL-3 :: Climate change

Climate change is seen as a serious challenge in the Netherlands, both for urban areas (flooding, heat stress) as for rural areas (salinization, subsidence, floods and droughts). This asks for solutions in terms of adaptation to and mitigation of climate change. Land use planning and the soil-sediment-water system have a high potential in these solutions.
In urban areas is smart planning, making use of the soil-sediment-water system (blue and green structures), needed to make climate proof and resilience cities. In rural areas it is in some cases needed to change functions to adapt to new circumstances (e.g. saline crops). Spatial planning is an instrument for coping with effects of climate change: such as restructuring canals and rivers, creating use of space for fresh water retention.
Part of the adaptation strategy is awareness. Stakeholders need to be made aware of the chances to make alliances to meet the challenges posed by climate change. This can be done both by using the soil-sediment-water system and by combining them with other societal challenges, such as energy need, a more sustainable agricultural sector, and smart and healthy city development. Stakeholders can take different measures and the question is here how many small scale solutions can contribute on a larger time and spatial scale to climate change adaptation.
Another solution is climate change mitigation. In the Netherlands carbon capture and storage (CCS) in empty natural gas fields is seen as a promising, but still very costly solution.
It is important that public and private parties know their possibilities to act within the climate adaptation and mitigation policy.
There is awareness on climate change as a societal challenge, but the role of the soil-sediment-water system in this discussion can be made more explicit. Organic matter can be the linking theme. This is worked out in a short narrative:

Narrative: The role of soil organic matter (SOM) at climate adaptation and mitigation
Can SOM be used in when speaking about the contribution of the soil-sediment-water system to adapt to and mitigate climate change in the same way as CO2 does in the climate debate?
When we looking at mitigation: we see that bad land management leads to emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses. Peat soils degrade, resulting in soil subsidence and a decrease of SOM and water storage potential of these soils. When looking at adaptation, water retention of soils can be improved when the land is managed in the right way. This is important when dealing with dryer summers and more intense and frequent rainfalls due to climate change.
Next to water storage, also water purification capacity, soil fertility and structure are influenced highly by SOM. SOM is also a measure and boundary condition for biodiversity.
The amounts of SOM are highly dependent on land use practice. For example, the use of crop (residues) for biofuels and fibre production for biobased products have as result a decreasing SOM content in soils.
In short: SOM is an important aspect for many soil functions and can be a link between the soil-sediment-water system and societal challenges such as climate change.
By combined research on the role of SOM and its functioning, more than one challenge can be addressed. Choosing SOM as a central theme can be a driver for alliances in research and implementation of the results in pilots in natural and rural areas, improving the role of the soil-sediment-water system and land management practices. Important stakeholders are farmers, industries processing compost and manure, authorities and researchers from different research fields, nature management organisations, fertilizer and chemical industry, banks, food and drinking water industry.
In short: research on SOM as the link between soil-sediment-water system and climate change is relevant. The loss of SOM is mentioned as one of the major soil threats and connects to the UN sustainable development goals . The role of SOM plays on different scales: from parcel to global. Putting it on the research agenda asks for action to improve awareness on the role of SOM when dealing with societal challenges and to link existing research programs to each other.

Specific research questions:
• What opportunities exist for alliances to tackle climate change challenges together with other societal challenges (such as energy and the smart and healthy city) using the potential of the soil-sediment-water system?
Natural capital
Elaborate how the soil-sediment-water system can contribute to challenges posed by climate change. Specific research questions:
• What opportunities do soil and subsurface offer for climate adaptation and mitigation (optimising land use to lower greenhouse gases, increase organic matter content, decrease the loss of organic matter, increase water storage potential, water safety, stability of soil, etc.)?
• Is organic matter the point of reference for climate change for the soil sector?
Land management
Elaborate the role of land use and management by coping to challenges posed by climate change (for both adaptation and mitigation strategies). Specific research questions:
• What can land use and management of the soil-sediment-water system contribute to tackling challenges related to climate change? Is this contribution fully known?
• What action perspectives for soil and subsurface do public and private parties have for climate adaptation and mitigation policy?
• How can the use (adaptation) of the soil-sediment-water system be adapted to impacts of climate change?
• What measures in the soil-sediment-water system are most effective to comply with the commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation)?
• What are the costs and benefits of climate adaptation and mitigation policy for the soil-sediment-water system?
• How can many small scale solutions contribute on a larger time and spatial scale to climate change adaptation and mitigation?
• What measures for the soil-sediment-water system and land use are effective under what circumstances in the context of climate adaptation and mitigation?

Net impacts
What are the effects of climate change on the soil-sediment-water system, its functions, and land use and management? Specific research questions:
• What is the effect of climate change on:
o Soil quality, soil characteristics, soil biodiversity, soil processes, soil subsidence and ecosystem services?
o The use of the soil-sediment-water system and land?
o Invasive soilborne pathogens?
o Pests due to a lacking frost period, resulting in the need for (new) pesticides ?
• How can effects of climate change on the soil-sediment-water system be monitored (natural capital, health, ecosystem)?
• How to avoid / deal with effects of climate change (soil subsidence, water management (flooding, dehydration, salinization), heat stress, changing land use, etc.)?