Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Earth, sky tapped in unique global climate change study

12.05.2004


A wedge of earth and sky 14 feet high and 3 feet deep near here may help scientists worldwide better understand the ecological impact of global climate change.


Scientists are monitoring global change under specially designed canopies where rain and temperatures can be pushed to the extreme. The study, near the Texas A&M University campus, was designed by Texas Agricultural Experiment Station scientists (Texas Agricultural Experiment Station photo by Kathleen Phillips)


Under a series of 10 canopies, a wedge of earth and sky 14 feet hit and 3 feet deep near the Texas A&M University is monitored by a team of Texas Agricultural Experiment Station researchers to determine the affect of global warming. (Texas Agricultural Experiment Station photo by Kathleen Phillips)



It’s an ecosystem where native plants must react to rain and temperature extremes along a dusty, winding road under an intricate, watchful plan of three Texas Agricultural Experiment Station scientists.

Thick white plastic stretches over 14-foot tall galvanized steel arches like giant, protective umbrellas to shelter 80 plots of juniper, post oak and little bluestem grass. But while the awnings prohibit nature from having her way with the young plants, the researchers may jack up the temperatures and send a rainstorm without batting an eye except to make note of the results.


"We hope to learn enough to be able to anticipate vegetation change so land managers can minimize negatives or optimize the positives of global climate change," said Dr. David Briske, Experiment Station plant ecologist.

Briske and Dr. Mark Tjoelker, Experiment Station forest ecologist, are co-investigators on this project, funded by the National Institute for Global Environmental Change. They are assisted by Dr. Astrid Volder, Experiment Station forest research associate.

What makes this global climate change study unique, Tjoelker said, is that it is in the real world -- not a computer-generated prediction model -- and it combines rainfall and warming in various amounts to measure impact on plant growth.

The researchers chose post oak, bluestem grass and junipers because those species are predominant in the 7.4 million-acre post oak savannah region from south central Texas through eastern Oklahoma. A change in rainfall and/or temperatures predicted over the next several decades could mean a shift in the dominance of these important plant species. And that could alter the way land is used and the types of wildlife able to survive there, Volder noted.

Briske and Tjoelker spent a year designing and building the elaborate, experimental system. Volder joined the team recently as the climate simulations and data collection began.

The system includes eight giant shelters built to exclude rainfall but allow a free flow of air so as not to create greenhouse-like conditions. Under each canopy, 10 6-foot-square plots with various combinations of the three species resemble a booklet of green, leafy postage stamps.

Over some hang heat lamps; others have a "dummy lamp," Tjoelker explained, so that the same amount of shade will be projected as on the heated plots. A sprinkler system is constructed over the sheltered plots, and the researchers alter their water source with trace minerals to equal that of the area’s natural rain.

The team, now in its second of a three-year study, routinely run various treatments for the 100 plots and is measuring the effects.

Twenty plots are planted without the protective coverings, heat lamps and water sprinklers as a check for how the species would grow under current temperatures and precipitation.

"We are looking at how the plots are growing as individual plants and together in combinations with the different trees and the grass," Tjoelker said.

Four combinations of weather are being tested: current rainfall, current rainfall plus warming, wet spring/dry summer; and wet spring/dry summer plus warming. Tjoelker said the experiment will go to about 40 percent drier in the summer, but the overall annual total rainfall will be about the same.

Briske said the temperatures will be raised to as much as 2-3 F more than normal, added throughout the year.

Everything is measured: simulated rainfall, soil moisture, soil temperature, air temperature, plant growth, and more. Already, the team is seeing some impact on plant growth.

"We had predicted that juniper would be able to take advantage of extra rain in the spring, because they are evergreen so they are actively growing before the other species," Tjoelker said.

"But we were surprised by the amount of growth response in the four weeks so far," Volder added. "We thought they would respond but not so much, so fast."

The juniper’s response points to the fact that global climate changes could mean some species would take over the region to the detriment of others, the researchers note.

"This type of information may give us an idea of what the critical times are for growth," Briske explained. "And then we could decide how to best alter land use and management."

Kathleen Phillips | Texas A&M University
Further information:
http://agnews.tamu.edu/dailynews/stories/FRSC/May1104a.htm

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

Im Focus: The Future of Ultrafast Solid-State Physics

In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.

Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...

Im Focus: Stronger evidence for a weaker Atlantic overturning

The Atlantic overturning – one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards – is weaker today than any time before in more than 1000 years. Sea surface temperature data analysis provides new evidence that this major ocean circulation has slowed down by roughly 15 percent since the middle of the 20th century, according to a study published in the highly renowned journal Nature by an international team of scientists. Human-made climate change is a prime suspect for these worrying observations.

“We detected a specific pattern of ocean cooling south of Greenland and unusual warming off the US coast – which is highly characteristic for a slowdown of the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Improved stability of plastic light-emitting diodes

19.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Enduring cold temperatures alters fat cell epigenetics

19.04.2018 | Life Sciences

New capabilities at NSLS-II set to advance materials science

18.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>