Most ecosystem and earth-system models predict soil organic carbon losses from temperate grasslands as temperatures increase. However, the magnitude of that loss is uncertain and the influence of other global change factors on the temperature sensitivity of decomposition remains poorly understood. Uthara’s research explores how historical temperature regimes interact with global change factors (i.e., warming, nitrogen deposition) to influence soil carbon storage and greenhouse gas exchange in semi-arid temperate grasslands. At sites along the western edge of the North American central grasslands and spanning from Texas to Montana, she will establish plots receiving warming and elevated nitrogen treatments. She will measure how soil carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide fluxes as well as soil carbon storage are affected by these treatments across sites. The results of this work can help improve our understanding of the controls on ecosystem cycling of greenhouse gases and better inform our understanding of carbon cycle – climate feedback loops.
Uthara Vengrai, Western Resource Fellow | Uthara is an ecosystem ecologist and doctoral student at the Yale School of the Environment. Her research explores the role of land use and global change on soil greenhouse gas exchange and organic matter pools in dryland ecosystems. Originally from Southern California, her academic interests are strongly motivated by a desire to produce research that helps inform and prepare communities in the West for the impacts of climate change. Uthara has a BS in Environmental Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley and an MESc from the Yale School of the Environment. See what Uthara has been up to. | Blog