Understanding the response of the terrestrial ecosystems to global change will be an essential component of an improved ability to project our future climate, and will be necessary if we hope to identify opportunities for mitigation. Much of the uncertainty over the response of the terrestrial carbon cycle is associated with below ground processes.
To a large extent, understanding of below ground processes is limited by the current state-of-the-art technology for soil analysis that is now over one hundred years old. We have developed new instrumentation that is capable of measuring soil carbon content over large areas, to a depth of 30 cm and without disturbing the soil. The principal is based on the Inelastic Neutron Scattering (INS) of fast neutrons from a carbon nucleus and subsequent detection of the emitted gamma rays. We are using this instrument in the field to measure the impact of management practices on carbon sequestration.
One problem facing the Department of Defense is unearthed, unexploded, ordnance at military facilities. Clearance operations must distinguish unexploded ordnance from inert ordnance. Handling every piece of ordnance as live increases disposal and remediation costs. Sudeep Mitra is working to adapt the INS technique to non invasively identify unexploded ordnance.