Authors:G. Gelybó, E. Tóth, C. Farkas, Á. Horel, I. Kása and Z. Bakacsi
Climate change is expected to have a vigorous impact on soils and ecosystems due to elevated temperature and changes in precipitation (amount and frequency), thereby altering biogeochemical and hydrological cycles. Several phenomena associated with climate change and anthropogenic activity affect soils indirectly via ecosystem functioning (such as higher atmospheric CO2 concentration and N deposition). Continuous interactions between climate and soils determine the transformation and transport processes. Long-term gradual changes in abiotic environmental factors alter naturally occurring soil forming processes by modifying the soil water regime, mineral composition evolution, and the rate of organic matter formation and degradation. The resulting physical and chemical soil properties play a fundamental role in the productivity and environmental quality of cultivated land, so it is crucial to evaluate the potential outcomes of climate change and soil interactions. This paper attempts to review the underlying long-term processes influenced by different aspects of climate change. When considering major soil forming factors (climate, parent material, living organisms, topography), especially climate, we put special attention to soil physical properties (soil structure and texture, and consequential changes in soil hydrothermal regime), soil chemical properties (e.g. cation exchange capacity, soil organic matter content as influenced by changes in environmental conditions) and soil degradation as a result of longterm soil physicochemical transformations. The temperate region, specifically the Carpathian Basin as a heterogeneous territory consisting of different climatic and soil zones from continental to mountainous, is used as an example to present potential changes and to assess the effect of climate change on soils. The altered physicochemical and biological properties of soils require accentuated scientific attention, particularly with respect to significant feedback processes to climate and soil services such as food security.