"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
|Contact: Sandra Hines|
University of Washington