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

To make this possible, ORNL and Forest Service researchers have proposed to design and build a system of open-top enclosures featuring recirculating forced-air heaters with internal air mixing to provide above-ground heating plus below-ground heating units. The facility would allow scientists to increase the temperature from ambient conditions to plus-9 degrees Celsius and boost carbon dioxide levels to between 800 parts per million and 900 ppm, which is at least two times ambient levels.

Hanson and colleagues are looking forward to gaining valuable insight from the experiment and a wide range of measurements that would be conducted over a 10-year period of manipulations.

"Recent workshops hosted or requested by the Department of Energy have emphasized that flagship experiments are needed to simultaneously address multiple science questions, engage a broad cross section of the scientific community and create a more visible and exciting presence to enhance DOE's important role in climate change research," Hanson said. "ORNL experiments will fill this role."

Hanson and colleagues see SPRUCE and similar facilities as being essential for the production of flexible scientific results covering a range of possible futures. This information is needed to allow scientists to develop ecological forecasting tools for policy makers to evaluate the consequences of greenhouse gases and their effects on global and regional climates. These objectives complement DOE's mandate to understand the consequences of atmospheric and climatic change for important ecosystems and the feedbacks between ecosystem response and climate.

Questions the project hopes to answer include:

How vulnerable are terrestrial ecosystems and their component organisms to atmospheric and climatic change?

What are the critical air and soil temperature response functions for ecosystem processes and their constituent organisms? Do those response functions for
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Contact: Ron Walli
wallira@ornl.gov
865-576-0226
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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