David Olefeldt

Assistant professor and CAIP chair (wetland restoration and catchment management)

Research areas

Impacts of disturbances and management on wetland functions; greenhouse gas fluxes and soil carbon storage; northern peatlands; permafrost thaw and thermokarst

Research website

Catchment and Wetland Sciences Research Group (CAWS)

David Olefeldt

David shares why soil science sparks his interest and what he likes about teaching

Why is soil important?
Soils store several times more carbon than found in the atmosphere as greenhouse gases. Understanding the stability of soil carbon stores in a changing climate allows us to project future soil greenhouse gas emissions, while studying the influence of different management practices or restoration efforts can allow us to identify mitigation actions to dampen climate change. Peatlands with their several-meters-thick organic soils have particularly large soil carbon stores. But their soil profiles built up over millennia also provide a record of the past, which can help us understand their futures.

What sparked your interest in soil science?
My interest is especially focused on wetland soils, which I find interesting because they are so challenging to understand. Ecology, biology, chemistry and particularly hydrology all interact strongly to determine soil functions. I also enjoy the challenge of trying to responsibly connect short-term, small-scale studies of wetland soil functions to our understanding of how wetland soils at global scales will respond over the coming decades and centuries.

Why do you like teaching?
It is rewarding when you see students discover their fascination of soil science. It is a lot of fun to bring students out to a field site and see how they all of a sudden can understand concepts and knowledge they previously only read about.