Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Era of canopy crane ending; certain research and education activities remain

29.04.2011
The 25-story construction crane used since 1995 to investigate such things as how Pacific Northwest forests absorb carbon dioxide, obtain sufficient water and resist attacks by pests and diseases is being pruned back to just the tower.

The Wind River Canopy Crane, located in a 500-year-old forest near Stevenson in southwest Washington, has been operated cooperatively by the University of Washington, the Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

The partners say the jib – the arm of the crane – is being removed because the Forest Service faces budget shortfalls and replacement parts for the crane are becoming more difficult to obtain. Funding for the crane's operation has largely come from the station's budget. The jib will be removed when money is available, possibly this summer.

Gone will be the ability to carry a gondola with researchers and instruments from the bottom to the top of trees as tall as 220 feet in a 560-foot circle of old-growth forest. The Wind River crane has the farthest reach of any of the nine forest canopy research cranes operating in the world today.

Remaining will be the 230-foot tower with sensors that collect data about how the carbon dioxide is absorbed and released by the forest, work under way since 1999. Because of the crane, the UW and the Forest Service have one of the world's longest, continuously collected data sets of carbon flux from a forest, according to Jerry Franklin, UW professor of forest resources, who was the prime mover in the 1990s for landing the $1 million project.

The carbon flux data are important as policymakers and citizens consider how to manage forests to maximize the amount of carbon they hold, he said.

Work at the crane site produced some of the first data to substantiate what Franklin and other scientists suspected in the 1980s: that old-growth Douglas fir forests weren't emitting more carbon than they were absorbing.

"Data collected at the crane site revealed that old growth forests are a sink for carbon," Franklin says.

A growing number of partners, ranging from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to the Smithsonian Institution Global Earth Observatories, count on carbon flux and isotope data being collected at the Wind River facility from the tower. Recently the site was chosen as the Pacific Northwest core site for the National Ecological Observatory Network, known as NEON, a major new initiative of the National Science Foundation.

The crane has facilitated other significant scientific discoveries, Franklin says, including seminal research on the structure of forest canopies, physiology of northwestern tree species, carbon and water cycles in forests, forest productivity and health, and the contributions of forest canopies to biodiversity, including birds, bats and insects. Researchers and students using the crane have generated more than 250 scientific publications.

The crane has, for example, enabled Pacific Northwest Research Station ecologist Rick Meinzer to study how very tall trees get the water they need to survive centuries of environmental extremes. During annual cycles of summer drought, trees rely on internal water storage to stabilize the supply of water to foliage high in the canopy, and on their deep roots to bring water close to the surface to feed shallow roots that might otherwise die every summer.

"Research using the crane has provided important insights about the factors that limit maximum tree height and why height growth slows drastically as a tree becomes taller," Meinzer says. "The tower will continue to be part of the nationwide network for continuous camera observation of changes in the timing of events such as leaf emergence and senescence, which are being influenced by climate change. Camera images are updated continuously and are available to both scientists and the public through websites."

The tower site and experimental forest also will continue to provide educational opportunities for high-school and college students focused on forest ecology, population dynamics and functions such as the cycling of carbon, water and nutrients.

For more information:

Franklin, jff@uw.edu

Meinzer, 541-758-7798, fmeinzer@fs.fed.us

Additional images available, see link below and request higher resolution versions from Sandra Hines: http://www.washington.edu/news/articles/era-of-canopy-crane-ending-certain-research-and-education-activities-remain

Suggested links

Crane homepage
http://depts.washington.edu/wrccrf/
Crane details
http://depts.washington.edu/wrccrf/crane.html
List of publications from crane research
http://depts.washington.edu/wrccrf/docs/WRCCRFPubList.html
UW School of Forest Resources
http://www.cfr.washington.edu/
Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station
http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
http://tinyurl.com/GiffordPinchot
NEON, National Ecological Observatory Network
http://www.neoninc.org/
Jerry Franklin
http://faculty.washington.edu/jff/
Rick Meinzer
http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/about/programs/ecop/canopy.shtml
Sampling of findings, opportunities:
Scientists interested in comparing the canopies of young and old-growth Douglas fir forests used the crane to document how completely different the structure – or architecture – of the older forest is.

The complexity of older canopies – with branches and foliage from the bottom to the top of trees – is one reason older forests are good at taking up carbon dioxide, research at the crane showed. There's a lot more "leaf area" than in younger forests where foliage is mainly at the tops of trees.

Research at the crane has revealed some of the ecosystem advantages of complex forest canopies and insight into how younger forests might be managed for more complexity if we wish.

As to the puzzle of how old growth Douglas firs can thrive for centuries after they stop growing taller and their crowns stop getting fuller, work at the crane was the first to definitively show that old trees generate new growth from dormant buds on their lower branches. It's more proof of the active growing in stands once considered to be in a state of decay.

The crane has provided educational opportunities for thousands of college students, teachers and natural resource professionals. At the secondary level, among other things, the crane was part of a television broadcast that reached 7 million students in North America.

The crane is located in the Wind River Experimental Forest of the Gifford National Forests where for nearly 100 years studies have been conducted into nursery practices, seedling survival and growth, genetics and ecology.

Sandra Hines | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uw.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>