Research Topic

Climate Change Induced Shifts in Biogeochemical Cycling of Water, Nutrients and Pollutants in Earth’s Critical Zone, and Their Effects on Biodiversity, Agricultural Productivity, and Food Security

About this Research Topic

The National Research Council of USA defines the “Earth's Critical Zone” as the heterogeneous, near surface environment extending from the top of the vegetation canopy to the base of active groundwater in which complex interactions involving rock, soil, water, air, and living organisms regulate natural habitats and control the availability of life sustaining resources. Since the critical zone extends across the pedosphere, the unsaturated vadose zone, and the saturated groundwater zone, and holistically embraces vital earth surface processes such as landscape evolution, weathering, hydrology, geochemistry, and ecology, the earth’s critical zone concept generated an interdisciplinary research arena that investigates interactions among the land surface, vegetation, and water bodies at various spatial and temporal scales and across anthropogenic gradients. There is a continuous biogeochemical cycling of nutrients, pollutants and water within the earth’s critical zone regulated by various hydro-biogeochemical processes discussed above.

Global climate change is an inevitable phenomenon resulting from progressive changes in human life style and societal behavior. It significantly affects mass and energy exchanges necessary for the biogeochemical cycling of plant nutrients, pollutants, and water in the earth’s critical zone thereby predominantly altering the bioavailability (deficiency, sufficiency, and excess), accumulation, and removal of plant nutrients and pollutants as well as water storage and availability. Any shift in these essential processes in the earth’s critical zone affects terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems with substantial effects on biodiversity, agricultural productivity, and food security for the ever-increasing global population. Numerous research programs have been investigating the nature and magnitude of climate change at various spatial and temporal scales, its consequences on various natural resources and agricultural productivity, and strategies of adaptation (agricultural and non-agricultural) to the adverse changes in natural resources due to climate change. Furthermore, there are programs and services to engage various stakeholders to face the challenges of climate change via implementing these research results to minimize the adverse effects of climate change on biodiversity, agricultural productivity, food security, and environments.

Embracing climate change science, biogeochemistry, biology, production agriculture, environmental chemistry, and social sciences, this Research Topic encourages articles covering the whole range of article types published in Frontiers in Earth Science: original research, reviews, commentaries, etc in the following and related domains:
• Compare, contrast, and quantify the impacts of various factors affecting biogeochemical cycling of water, nutrients and pollutants in the earth’s critical zone.
• Climate change effects on the biogeochemical cycling of water, nutrients and pollutants and their relationships with biodiversity, agricultural productivity, and food security on local and global scales.
• Research and development works on various climate change adaptation strategies involving agricultural production practices and societal behavior.


Keywords: biogeochemical cycling, climate change adaptation, biodiversity, agricultural productivity, food security, Earth's critical zone


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The National Research Council of USA defines the “Earth's Critical Zone” as the heterogeneous, near surface environment extending from the top of the vegetation canopy to the base of active groundwater in which complex interactions involving rock, soil, water, air, and living organisms regulate natural habitats and control the availability of life sustaining resources. Since the critical zone extends across the pedosphere, the unsaturated vadose zone, and the saturated groundwater zone, and holistically embraces vital earth surface processes such as landscape evolution, weathering, hydrology, geochemistry, and ecology, the earth’s critical zone concept generated an interdisciplinary research arena that investigates interactions among the land surface, vegetation, and water bodies at various spatial and temporal scales and across anthropogenic gradients. There is a continuous biogeochemical cycling of nutrients, pollutants and water within the earth’s critical zone regulated by various hydro-biogeochemical processes discussed above.

Global climate change is an inevitable phenomenon resulting from progressive changes in human life style and societal behavior. It significantly affects mass and energy exchanges necessary for the biogeochemical cycling of plant nutrients, pollutants, and water in the earth’s critical zone thereby predominantly altering the bioavailability (deficiency, sufficiency, and excess), accumulation, and removal of plant nutrients and pollutants as well as water storage and availability. Any shift in these essential processes in the earth’s critical zone affects terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems with substantial effects on biodiversity, agricultural productivity, and food security for the ever-increasing global population. Numerous research programs have been investigating the nature and magnitude of climate change at various spatial and temporal scales, its consequences on various natural resources and agricultural productivity, and strategies of adaptation (agricultural and non-agricultural) to the adverse changes in natural resources due to climate change. Furthermore, there are programs and services to engage various stakeholders to face the challenges of climate change via implementing these research results to minimize the adverse effects of climate change on biodiversity, agricultural productivity, food security, and environments.

Embracing climate change science, biogeochemistry, biology, production agriculture, environmental chemistry, and social sciences, this Research Topic encourages articles covering the whole range of article types published in Frontiers in Earth Science: original research, reviews, commentaries, etc in the following and related domains:
• Compare, contrast, and quantify the impacts of various factors affecting biogeochemical cycling of water, nutrients and pollutants in the earth’s critical zone.
• Climate change effects on the biogeochemical cycling of water, nutrients and pollutants and their relationships with biodiversity, agricultural productivity, and food security on local and global scales.
• Research and development works on various climate change adaptation strategies involving agricultural production practices and societal behavior.


Keywords: biogeochemical cycling, climate change adaptation, biodiversity, agricultural productivity, food security, Earth's critical zone


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

12 January 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

12 January 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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