Researchers at the New Mexico State University’s College of Agriculture are studying soil in the Las Cruces area to predict future climate change.

The soil holds clues to past climate information that shows researchers how the climate has changed over many years. By understanding past climate changes, researchers expect to be able to predict future climate change, said Curtis Monger, professor of plant and environmental sciences at NMSU. Monger is studying the soil in dried up lakes in New Mexico that once existed.

“The way science makes a prediction is by having a long history it can look back at,” Monger said.

Monger explained that the biggest challenge is in finding soil that still contains environmental evidence. Finding the evidence will help researchers to answer the question about climate change and global warming. The debate continues to persist especially after Hurricane Sandy ripped into the East Coast. Many suspect this hurricane was due to global warming.

By studying the soil, Monger said researchers can see what plants grew in the soil in the past. Monger’s research is helping researchers understand how regions respond to expanding arid conditions. This is especially important because many regions are experiencing a desertification of their lands.

“This research will help us understand what happened as the desert expanded and also contracted,” Monger said.