The Harleman Lecture is intended not only to enrich the faculty and students in the hydrosystems division of Penn State’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, but also the entire engineering community external to the Department as well, by providing contact with outstanding researchers and practitioners in the field from outside the University. The lecture will be a fall semester parallel to the very successful Kavanagh Lecture in Structural Engineering established in 1994 and held annually in the spring.
Intensification of industrial agriculture has resulted in severe unintended global impacts, including degradation of arable land and eutrophication of receiving water bodies. Modern agricultural practices rely on significant direct and indirect human energy inputs, which have created imbalances between increased rates of biogeochemical processes related to production and background rates of natural processes. These imbalances have cascaded through the deep inter-dependencies between carbon, soil, water, nutrient and ecological processes, resulting in a critical transition of the Critical Zone and creating emergent dynamics and evolutionary trajectories. Understanding of these novel organization and function of the Critical Zone is vital for developing sustainable agricultural practices. This talk will present insights gained towards this challenge from the efforts of the Intensively Managed Landscape Critical Zone Observatory.