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Climate Change and Standardisation

soil samples

15 Jan 2014

ISO Technical Committee TC190-Soil Quality produces international standards on chemical analytical methods, determination of physical properties, biological testing, sampling and site assessment. Many of the standards produced have been adopted as British Standards and European Standards (ENs).

The ISO TC190 Soil Quality Ad-hoc Group (AHG) on Climate Change has been set up to consider what contribution standardisation might make to determining the effects of climate change on soil quality, and how soil contributes to the carbon balance, as temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations rise. For example, what should be measured and how can this be done?

Unless there are standardised methods of measurement it is not possible to compare the results for different locations and ecosystems around the world.

Similarly, such concepts as carbon footprints are meaningless unless the inputs are standardised and accurate.

The first task of the Ad-hoc Group is to produce a non-technical document addressed to policy makers describing what standards exist at present and in what areas new methods would be beneficial. This is felt necessary to try to stimulate governments and other interested parties to sustain financial and other support for relevant standardisation activities.

Consideration has also been given to production of a more technical document looking at what is known and what we need to know in scientific terms, but it may not be appropriate for ISO to produce this.

I shall be attending the meeting of the ISO TC190 Ad-hoc Group on Climate Change to be held on 18 February 2014 in Delft. However, I am not an expert on these matters and should be pleased to hear from any members of the Group who have a special interest in this subject area.

In due course, the BS 'shadow' committee to ISO TC 190 (ie EH4 Soil Quality) on which SCI is represented, will have to comment on any documents produced by the Ad-hoc Group and it would be helpful to know of people who might be able to help with this process. There might, also be opportunities for direct participation in the work of the Ad-hoc Group .

Mike Smith
SCI representative, BSI EH4 Soil Quality

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