Update: 13.10.2017

Soil stores 10% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions.

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The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) is the global union of soil scientists. The objectives of the IUSS are to promote all branches of soil science, and to support all soil scientists across the world in the pursuit of their activities. This website provides information for IUSS members and those interested in soil science.

IUSS Alert 145 (July 2017)


IUSS News

IUSS Bulletin 130 now online

The most recent IUSS Bulletin is now online, featuring a variety of articles from an activity report of the IUSS Secretariat, the Minutes of the IUSS Council meetings which took place during the IUSS Inter-Congress Meeting in Rio de Janeiro, activities and recent achievements during the International Decade of Soils (2015-2024), conference and meeting reports and obituaries of outstanding soil scientists.
Should you wish to submit contributions for the next Bulletin, which will be published in December 2017, or place paid advertisements, please contact the IUSS Secretariat until 15 November at iuss@umweltbundesamt.at

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New fact sheets on the IUSS website

The newest IUSS fact sheets on Soil and food security, Soil governance and Perception of soil by society were uploaded to the Newsroom of the IUSS website.
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Final Call for Nominations: Dokuchaev Award, Von Liebig Award, and the IUSS Jeju Award

Three awards are presented by the IUSS at each World Congress of Soil Science to recognize outstanding contributions in three areas:

  • IUSS Dokuchaev Award for basic research in soil science
  • IUSS Liebig Award for applied research in soil science
  • The IUSS Jeju Award for a young or mid-career soil scientist.
    Eligible nominees and nominators are members of the IUSS. Each award consists of an engraved medal or equivalent, a certificate, a US$ 1000 honorarium, and financial support to attend the presentation at the World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS).

Nomination procedures are on the IUSS Website:
>> Dokuchaev Award – information, criteria & guidelines
>> Von Liebig Award – information, criteria & guidelines
>> The IUSS Jeju Award – information, criteria & guidelines

Submissions are due 12 August 2017. Nominators who have submitted previous nominations are encouraged to submit the nomination again.
For further information, please contact M.B. Kirkham (Email).
Read more about IUSS awards

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Award of Best Paper in Pedometrics 2016

Thirty votes were received. Seven of the eight nominated papers received at least one first-place vote, and the voters had quite a range of rankings. For the first time we have a split victory; in DOI order:

Viscarra Rossel, R.A., T. Behrens et al. (2016). A global spectral library to characterize the world’s soil. Earth-Science Reviews 155, 198–230.
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Poggio, L., Gimona, A., Spezia, L., & Brewer, M. J. (2016). Bayesian spatial modelling of soil properties and their uncertainty: The example of soil organic matter in Scotland using R-INLA. Geoderma, 277, 69–82.
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If you have not read these or the other nominated papers, it’s never too late! We will repeat the process next year “Best Paper 2017” to be awarded at World Soil Congress 2018.
By David Rossiter, Chairman, Awards Commission IUSS Pedometrics Commission 1.5

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Ivan Rodrigo Orjuela Osorio (†2017)

The Secretariat was sad to learn that Ivan Rodrigo Orjuela Osorio passed away on the evening of Friday 30th June, shortly after a tragic traffic accident in Wageningen. Ivan was a PhD student from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and worked on soil carbon prediction by spectroscopy.
He was an enthusiastic participant in Pedometrics 2017 and received excited feedback for his conference presentation. He was making plans with all the new scientific contacts he made at the conference.
We are shocked with the news and extend our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
Please see the Pedometrics 2017 website (http://www.pedometrics2017.org/) for a condolence register.

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Newsletter of IUSS Division 4 ‘Soil Connects’ published

Issue 6 of the biannual SOIL Connects Newsletter of IUSS Division 4 has just been released. It includes a number of interesting articles, starting with a report from the Division Chair, followed by a number of articles on soil and art, concluding with new publications and forthcoming meetings.
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Meeting on the progress of the preparation of the WCSS 2018 at the IUSS headquarters in Vienna

On the 23rd of June, 2017 the former President of the Brazilian Soil Science Society, Gonzalo Farias, and Prof. Floria Bertsch, President of the Soil Science Society of Costa Rica, visited IUSS Secretary Sigbert Huber at his office in Vienna.
They were accompanied by Prof.Winfried Blum, honorary member of IUSS and Secretary General of IUSS 1990-2002. The main purpose was to discuss the preparation of the WCSS 2018. The congress programme will be finalized and uploaded to the congress website very soon.
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General News

Glinka World Soil Prize 2017

The Glinka World Soil Prize honours individuals and organizations whose leadership and activities have contributed or are still contributing to the promotion of sustainable soil management and the protection of soil resources. The Glinka Prize is an annual award for dynamic change-makers dedicated to addressing soil degradation. The first Glinka World Soil Prize was awarded on World Soil Day 2016. The nomination process for the Glinka World Soil Prize 2017 has been launched, and organizations and individuals are invited to nominate appropriate candidates and to submit nomination forms by 30 September 2017 to GSP-Secretariat (Email).
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From: Global Soil Partnership | Newsletter #12

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Global assessment of pressures on soil biodiversity

The JRC’s Soil Team is working on the first global assessment of the impacts on soil biodiversity of both anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic pressures. To reach this goal, JRC carries out a survey to incorporate expert judgements. The result of this survey will allow to rank the main pressures on soil life and to map their distribution at the global scale. Responses to the survey are essential for determining how to weigh each pressure in the cumulative impact maps that will be produced. Therefore, your participation in this process is highly appreciated.
Contact person: Alberto Orgiazzi (Email).
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From European Soil Data Centre Newsletter No. 102, June 2017

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Vacancy: Assistant professor soil physics at University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

The faculty of the Department of Soil Science seeks a soil physicist for a tenure-track position. Materials should be submitted by September 1, 2017.
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ISRIC entrusted as Global Soil Facility for the GSP

ISRIC – World Soil Information has been entrusted with the role of Global Soil Information Facility (GSF) by the Plenary Assembly of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) on June 20, 2017.
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New post on Make Wealth History: Restoring soil in Bangladesh

Soil loss is the environmental crisis that gets the least attention from the media or from environmental campaigns. That’s why I did a whole week on it last year, and wrote up a report as an introduction to the topic. Last week Practical Action released a short documentary on soil in Bangladesh. It makes a neat case study in how soil fertility is lost, and the risks that it poses to farmers. There are a number of culprits here – poor land management, generous subsidies on fertiliser that encourage overuse, and competing uses for organic matter. The solutions are holistic and creative – the country lacks a market for compost, and creating one could help solve problems with domestic waste and pollution at the same time.
I suspect you didn’t plan on spending any time today thinking about soil in Bangladesh, but this is a great example of circular economy thinking in a developing world context. It shows the role that markets can play in solving environmental problems, and how government can enable and assist rather than direct. You’ll also find appropriate technology, the case for a flexible ‘mostly organic’ approach to agriculture, and a documentary that lets Bangladeshis tell their own story.
by Jeremy Williams
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Study finds mercury levels in Arctic soils 5 times higher than temperate regions

Plants and soil in the Arctic tundra absorb and store mercury released into the atmosphere by industry and mining in the Earth’s temperate regions, leading to soil mercury levels five times higher than in lower latitudes, according to a new study published this week in the journal Nature. The international team of researchers from the U.S. and France used a combination of methods to monitor the accumulation of mercury from the atmosphere, performing continuous sampling over a two-year period, including through the Arctic winter. They concluded that the Arctic tundra is a major “sink” for mercury, a toxin that affects the neurological and immune systems of Arctic wildlife and is passed along to indigenous peoples who rely on subsistence hunting for their food.
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Carbon catch-22: the pollution in our soil

Bad behaviour doesn’t usually have good consequences but our fossil fuel and fertiliser habits may have had some “good” environmental side-effects. New research suggests that the last 200 years of pollution have increased the carbon stored in soils across natural ecosystems in Britain. And this locking in of carbon in soils provides an offset for some of our carbon emissions. But the catch-22 is if we kick our polluting habits, this carbon is at risk of returning to our atmosphere, contributing to climate change.
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Soil evolution par for the golf course

In 2008, Glen Obear was interning at a golf course in Hawaii when the superintendent asked him to help diagnose a mysterious problem. Some of the course’s putting greens were developing bald patches, spots where the turfgrasses were dying and thinning out. The failures were troubling because the expensive, exquisitely crafted greens were just five years old. A new green is normally expected to last at least five times as long. Along the way of the investigation, the team discovered something else: The layers weren’t so strange after all, but merely evidence of what all soils do—age and evolve. “The big difference is that in [turf] soils, it happens quickly because you irrigate them, and you apply lots of iron and fertilizer,” says UW-Madison pedologist Alfred Hartemink, who chairs the UW-Madison Department of Soil Science. “But there is something happening that we can explain. It’s soil formation.”
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Monitoring soil structure changes after compaction

Soil compaction is a global threat to soil ecosystem services, causing tremendous costs to society. The costs of soil compaction are borne by the cumulative loss of soil functionality (e.g. yield loss) following a compaction event until the soil has functionally recovered. Although soil compaction is relatively widely studied, there is a lack of reliable observations and metrics for soil structure recovery rates after compaction.
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Global Rainfall Erosivity

JRC has collected data on rainfall erosivity from 3,625 meteorological stations in 63 coun¬tries to establish the first ever Global Rainfall Erosivity Database (GloREDa). Quantifying rainfall erosivity is challenging as it requires high temporal resolution(1-60 minutes) and high fidelity rainfall recordings. In collaboration with 31 scientists and 100+ organiza¬tions, JRC has developed the global erosivity map which was published in Nature Group’s Scientific Reports. The highest rainfall erosivity is found in South America (especially around the Amazon Basin) and the Caribbean countries, Central Africa and parts of West¬ern Africa and South East Asia. The lowest values are in mid- and high-latitude regions such as Canada, the Russian Federation, northern Europe, northern Africa, the Middle East and southern Australia. The R-factor map at 30 arc-sec resolution is available for free download in the ESDAC:
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From European Soil Data Centre Newsletter No. 102, June 2017

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Launch of the International Network on Black Soils

The International Network of Black Soils (INBS) was established under the aegis of the GSP as a platform for knowledge-sharing by countries with black soils with the aim of stimulating discussion on common issues related to the conservation and sustainable management of these soils and fostering technical exchange and cooperation.
The INBS was launched at the Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon in March 2017, with representatives from national soil institutions and the governments of Argentina, Brazil, China, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America. The Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils will provide scientific advice to the INBS, and the GSP Secretariat will facilitate the implementation of agreed activities as it receives contributions from resource partners.
The INBS concept note and terms of reference were submitted to the fifth GSP Plenary Assembly, where the INBS was officially endorsed. Mr Guiqing Han from China’s Heilongjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences was appointed as the INBS chair, and China proposed that it organizes the first meeting of the network.
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From: Global Soil Partnership | Newsletter #12

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Conferences, Meetings and Workshops

Webinar about urban soil mapping

10 August 2017, 1:00–2:30 p.m. (CT). This webinar is a panel presentation on recent NCSS mapping efforts in big cities. You’ll hear how some employees have overcome the challenges of mapping in urban areas as well as the career opportunities they have had as a result of these mapping efforts.
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6th International Symposium on Soil Organic Matter

Rothamsted Research, Harpenden (United Kingdom), September 3–7, 2017, Title: Healthy soils for sustainable agriculture: the role of SOM. Rothamsted is the oldest agricultural research station in the world. Therefore, as well as the major themes that apply to all areas of SOM science, the theme of this Symposium particularly focusses on the management of agricultural soils to deliver environmentally and economically sustainable supplies of sufficient, nutritious food for all, in the context of global population increase, climate change and unequal resource distribution.
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WMESS 2017 – World Multidisciplinary Earth Sciences Symposium

Prague, Czech Republic, September 11-15, 2017. The main mission of the “World Multidisciplinary Earth Sciences Symposium – WMESS” is to lead to contribute in multidisciplinary studies related with atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and pedosphere of the Earth and interaction of the human with them. As another mission it will provide a forum for this diverse range of studies which report very latest results and document emerging understanding of the Earth’s system and our place in it. WMESS aims to provide a forum for discussion of the latest findings and technologies in different fields of Earth Sciences; to give opportunities for future collaborations; to be a platform for sharing knowledge and experiences in the fields of Earth Sciences; and to lead for providing a forum for early career researchers for presentation of their work and discussion of their ideas with experts in different fields of Earth Sciences.
Deadline for abstract submission: July 15, 2017
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ICERAP 2017 – International Conference on Ecosystem Resilience and Agricultural Productivity

Kampala, Uganda, November 22-24, 2017. A significant proportion of livelihoods in tropical regions particularly in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) are heavily ecosystem dependent. Equally, the development strategies of the regional economies are premised on harnessing ecosystem and environmental resources to sustain the economic growth and increasing food, fibre and energy demands for the populations. Whilst the national economies show rapid growth, there is increasing concern on declining ecosystem health, and agricultural productivity given the rapidly increasing population. This conference aims to cultivate the emerging knowledge crucial for solving the complex and interconnected issues of ecosystem resilience, increasing agricultural productivity and sustaining livelihoods under climate change.
Deadline for abstract submission: 31 July 2017
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ICSSPN 2018 – 20th International Conference on Soil Science and Plant Nutrition

Paris, France, January 25 – 26, 2018. The ICSSPN 2018 aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition. It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition.
Important Dates:
>> Abstracts/Full-Text Paper Submission Deadline July 14, 2017
>> Notification of Acceptance/Rejection July 30, 2017
>> Final Paper (Camera Ready) Submission & Early Bird Registration Deadline Dec. 12 2017
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AWSPT’18 – 3rd International Conference on Air, Water, and Soil Pollution and Treatment

Budapest, Hungary, April 8 – 10, 2018
The AWSPT’18 aims to become the leading annual conference in fields related to air, water, and soil pollution and treatment. The goal of AWSPT’18 is to gather scholars from all over the world to present advances in the relevant fields and to foster an environment conducive to exchanging ideas and information. This conference will also provide an ideal environment to develop new collaborations and meet experts on the fundamentals, applications, and products of the mentioned fields. AWSPT’18 is part of the 3rd World Congress on Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering (CSEE’18).
Paper Submission Deadline: October 20, 2017
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New publications

Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life

By David R. Montgomery, 1st Edition published in May 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company, 320 pages, ISBN: 9780393608328, price hardback $26.95.
The problem of agriculture is as old as civilization. Throughout history, great societies that abused their land withered into poverty or disappeared entirely. Now we risk repeating this ancient story on a global scale due to ongoing soil degradation, a changing climate, and a rising population. But there is reason for hope. David R. Montgomery introduces us to farmers around the world at the heart of a brewing soil health revolution that could bring humanity’s ailing soil back to life remarkably fast. Growing a Revolution draws on visits to farms in the industrialized world and developing world to show that a new combination of farming practices can deliver innovative, cost-effective solutions to problems farmers face today.
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Soils, Ecosystem Processes, and Agricultural Development

Edited by Shinya Funakawa, 1st ed. published by Springer in 2017, 392 pages, 126 illustrations, 55 illustrations in colour. Price hardcover: 149.99 € | £112.00 | $179.00.
The main objective of this book is to integrate environmental knowledge observed in local agriculture, based on the understanding of soils science and ecology, and to propose possible technical solutions and a more integrated approach to tropical agriculture. The chapters describe and analyse the ecological and technical countermeasures available for mitigating environmental degradation due to the increasing agricultural activities by humans, based on our scientific understanding of traditional agriculture in the tropics.
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Managing Mississippi and Ohio River Landscapes

By Kenneth R. Olson and Lois Wright Morton. Published July 2017 by the Soil and Water Conservation Society, 240 full-colour pages, ISBN 978-0-9856923-1-5, price hardcover $49.00.
Two powerful rivers, the Ohio and Mississippi, and their tributaries drain more than 41% of the interior continental United States. Managing Mississippi and Ohio River Landscapes examines the complex and ever-changing Mississippi and Ohio Rivers’ landscapes and their systems. Through a series of engaging case studies accompanied by illustrative maps and photographs, the book reviews the historical impacts of climate, economic and population growth, and efforts to manage the waterways with engineered structures. Topics include drainage of bottomlands for crop production and other land uses, flooding risks and responses, levee systems and breaches, river navigation, and river ecology. The book concludes with recommendations for future management of these major US waterways.
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Pedometrics 25th Anniversary Virtual Issue

Free Open access articles until end of 2017, a selection of 75 best papers in Pedometrics.
The discipline of pedometrics is celebrating 25 years since it first conference in Wageningen, the Netherlands, in September 1992. This virtual special issue is part of that celebration. Pedometrics can be defined as the development and application of statistical and mathematical methods to data analysis problems in soil science. More broadly, Pedometrics applies mathematical, statistical and numerical methods to resolve the uncertainty and complexity inherent in the soil system. This virtual special issue brings together important contributions to pedometrics from the Elsevier suite of journals.
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Monitoring soil structure evolution after compaction

Soil compaction is a global threat to soil ecosystem services, causing tremendous costs to society. The costs of soil compaction are borne by the cumulative loss of soil functionality (e.g. yield loss) following a compaction event until the soil has functionally recovered. Although soil compaction is relatively widely studied, there is a lack of reliable observations and metrics for soil structure recovery rates after compaction. In the April issue of Vadose Zone Journal, researchers describe the objectives, the design, the implementation, and monitoring concept of a long-term field experiment for monitoring post-compaction evolution of soil structure, referred to as a soil structure observatory.
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Soil Carbon and Nitrogen under a long-term fertilizer Gradient

The connection between commercial N fertilizer and soil organic carbon is widely debated. In a recent article in the Soil Science Society of America Journal, researchers examined how long-term nitrogen use affected soil C and N in continuous corn production. The low rate of N application caused significant decreases in soil C and N content down to 100 cm, while no differences were determined between the recommended and high rates of N. In addition, plots receiving the low application of N were lower in elevation and had less depth of the A horizon.
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Unlocking the Potential of Soil Organic Carbon

By FAO, Rome, 2017, 36 pages, ISBN 978-92-5-109759-5. The Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon (GSOC17) outcome document “Unlocking the Potential of Soil Organic Carbon”, was drafted and reviewed by the GSOC17 Scientific Committee. It highlights the role of soils and SOC management in achieving goals on climate change and sustainable development, and it makes recommendations on the key next steps for including SOC in the regular reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, starting with SR2, the refinement of guidelines on greenhouse gas inventories and the Sixth Assessment Report, as well as reporting to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and on the Sustainable Development Goals.
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Soil Organic Carbon Mapping Cookbook

Edited by Yusuf Yigini, Rainer Baritz, Ronald R. Vargas. FAO, Rome, 1st edition April 2017, 180 pages. Developing the Global Soil Organic Carbon Map will require intensive collaboration among soil information institutions globally. The Soil Organic Carbon Mapping Cookbook provides generic methodologies and the technical steps for producing national soil organic carbon (SOC) maps. It includes step-by-step guidance for developing 1 km grids for SOC stocks, the preparation of local soil data, the compilation and pre-processing of ancillary spatial datasets, upscaling methodologies, and uncertainty assessments. Guidance is mainly specific to soil carbon data, but it also includes generic sections on soil grid development due to its relevance to other soil properties. The cookbook provides technical guidelines for preparing and evaluating spatial soil datasets; determining SOC stocks from local samples to a target depth of 30 cm; preparing spatial covariates for upscaling; and selecting and applying the most suitable upscaling methodology.
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Soils’ potential to contribute to offset international aviation emissions

By FAO, 2017, 8 pages. This informative note presents soil carbon sequestration as an option for offsetting carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation as part of a market-based mechanism. Potentially, projects arising from such an approach could foster soil carbon sequestration to support the achievement of all FAO’s strategic objectives (SOs), in particular eradicating hunger (SO1), making agriculture more productive and sustainable (SO2), and increasing resilience (SO3). Offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation through SOC sequestration can contribute to sustainable development by promoting economic development, mitigating and helping adapt to climate change, and food security.
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Vacancy for Assistant Professor of Soil Resources


Assistant Professor (TT) of Soil Resources

The Department of Environmental Systems Science (www.usys.ethz.ch) of ETH Zurich invites applications for an assistant professor (tenure track) focusing on (1) the role of soil as a key natural resource, supporting a wide range of forest and other terrestrial ecosystem functions and services and/or (2) quantifying the effects of changes of land use and climate on various soil functions at local to global scales. Candidates should be interested in system-oriented multidisciplinary research and are expected to develop an innovative and internationally recognized research program, making an important contribution to linking soil ecosystem services to land-use and climate change.

The successful candidate will have a strong background in soil sciences and demonstrated potential for innovative research. At the assistant professor level commitment to teaching and the ability to lead a research group are expected. Teaching duties will include advanced-level courses on the assessment, modelling or management of soil resources as part of the environment.

Assistant professorships have been established to promote the careers of younger scien¬tists. ETH Zurich implements a tenure track system equivalent to other top international universities.

Please apply online at: www.facultyaffairs.ethz.ch

Applications should include a curriculum vitae, a list of publications, a statement of future research and teaching interests, and a description of the three most important achievements.
The letter of application should be addressed to the President of ETH Zurich, Prof. Dr. Lino Guzzella.
The closing date for applications is 31 August 2017.
ETH Zurich is an equal opportunity and family friendly employer and is responsive to the needs of dual career couples. We specifically encourage women to apply.

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