Penn State Soil Characterization Lab
Soil is an integral part of ecosystem function. There are 29 million acres (11,735,884 hectares) of soil in Pennsylvania supporting: wetlands; forest lands; agricultural lands; urban lands; homes, businesses, and roads; our drinking and wastewater filtration. Without soil, these activities and functions would be much more difficult and in some cases even impossible, for soil is as precious to our lives as the very blood in our bodies.
Research in the Soil Characterization Laboratory focuses on people’s use of landscapes and the accompanying changes in soil function across the larger ecosystem the soil supports. Dr. Drohan’s research group addresses basic science questions, but also demonstrates how this new knowledge can be applied to improve land management and ecosystem stability.
Soil Characterization Lab News
New article in the JSWC: Forecasting runoff from Pennsylvania landscapes
May 20, 2013A.R. Buda, P.J.A. Kleinman, G.W. Feyereisen, D.A. Miller, P.G. Knight, P.J. Drohan and R.B. Bryant.... Abstract: Identifying sites prone to surface runoff has been a cornerstone of conservation and nutrient management programs, relying upon site assessment tools that support strategic, as opposed to operational, decision making. We sought to develop simple, empirical models to represent two highly different mechanisms of surface runoff generation—saturation excess runoff and infiltration excess runoff—using variables available from short-term weather forecasts. Logistic regression models were developed from runoff monitoring studies in Pennsylvania, fitting saturation excess runoff potential to rainfall depth, rainfall intensity, and soil moisture, and infiltration excess runoff potential to rainfall depth and intensity. Testing of the models in daily hindcasting mode over periods of time and at sites separate from where they were developed confirmed a high degree of skill, with Brier Skill Scores ranging from 0.61 to 0.65 and Gilbert Skill Scores ranging from 0.39 to 0.59. These skill scores are as good as models used in weather forecasting. Results point to the capability to forecast site-specific surface runoff potential for diverse soil conditions, with advances in weather forecasting likely to further improve the predictive ability of runoff models of this type.
Dr. Drohan featured in SSSA article on Soil Scientists Embracing the "Age of Humans"
May 16, 2013Contemplating humanity's impact at the global scale of the geosciences can blow your mind, but maybe for the best. See this month's feature article of Soil Horizons, "Pedology Key to Understanding Our Changing Earth in the ‘Age of Humans’".
New paper out on using LIDAR to make surface roughness calculations.
April 11, 2013Brubaker, K.M., Meyers, W.L., Drohan, P.J., Miller, D.A., and E.W. Boyer. 2013. The use of LIDAR terrain data in characterizing surface roughness and microtopography. Applied and Environmental Soil Science. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/891534