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New facility expected to clarify ecosystem responses to climate change
Date:2/5/2010

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 5, 2010 -- Scientists hope to get a glimpse of the future with a proposed experiment facility in northern Minnesota that would allow them to adjust temperatures and levels of carbon dioxide across a broad range of possibilities projected by climate models.

Researchers believe that the experimental facility, proposed to be built in a high-carbon spruce bog within the Chippewa National Forest, would provide answers to key questions about the effects climate change could have on vegetation and ecosystems while addressing critical uncertainties related to the carbon cycle. Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, working in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, are hopeful that construction of the facility could begin in December 2011.

Scientists are calling the multi-year experiment SPRUCE, which stands for Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Climatic and Environmental change. The carefully selected 20-acre site is located in a representative black spruce bog forest about 25 miles from Grand Rapids in the Forest Service Northern Research Station's Marcell Experimental Forest.

"The experimental site includes an ecosystem considered especially vulnerable to climate change and thought to be near its tipping point with respect to logical projections of climate change," said Paul Hanson, a member of ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division and the lead researcher for the project.

Researchers expect responses to warming and interactions with increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to have important feedbacks on the atmosphere and climate because of the high carbon stocks harbored by such ecosystems.

"Our approach includes developing and performing experiments that expose critical ecosystems and their components to a broad range of temperature increases both above and below ground combined with atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment," Hanson said.


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Contact: Ron Walli
wallira@ornl.gov
865-576-0226
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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