Monitoring decade-long experimental whole-ecosystem

VDV was used for a research into climatic and environmental changes by monitoring the temperature and CO2 treatments in the plots in near real time.

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About project

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the largest US Department of Energy science and energy laboratory, conducting basic and applied research to deliver transformative solutions to compelling problems in energy and security.

The United States Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation’s 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands

The SPRUCE project system was designed to facilitate decade-long experimental whole ecosystem warming and elevated CO2 Exposures of an intact forested peatland.

SPRICE project has a public access to their VDV System https://sprucedata.ornl.gov

VDV continues to prove its worth by allowing us to monitor conditions and make adjustments to treatments as needed.            I don’t know how we could keep track of the large number of instruments without it.

— Jeffery Riggs, Master Technician
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The challenge

Identification of critical environmental response functions for terrestrial organisms, communities, and ecosystems to rapidly changing climate conditions are needed to evaluate ecological consequences and feedbacks.

Such research has the most ‘real-world’ relevance when conclusions are drawn from controlled manipulations operating in natural field settings. We have developed an experimental platform to address climate change response mechanisms in a Picea/Larix/Sphagnum bog ecosystem located in northern Minnesota. This ecosystem located at the southern extent of the spatially expansive boreal peatland forests is considered to be especially vulnerable to climate change and to have important feedbacks on the atmosphere and climate.

The replicated experiment will allow us to test mechanisms controlling vulnerability of organisms and ecosystem processes changes for multiple levels of warming (+0, 2.25, 4.5 , 6.75, and 9°C) combined with elevated CO2 exposures (~900 ppm) at selected warming levels.

Inside a SPRUCE experimental chamber showing ground based sensors and walkways.
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The solution

New methods for whole-ecosystem warming at plot scales 12-m in diameter were developed for this study, and full whole-ecosystem-warming treatments were initiated in August of 2015 for a decade of manipulation. Through the execution of this experiment we plant to quantify thresholds for organism decline or mortality, limitations to regeneration, biogeochemical limitations to productivity, and changing greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.

Communications between dataloggers and data collection operate on Ethernet network. All CR1000’s are wired to a LAN that spans all experimental plots. It allows implementing centralized data acquisition and makes it easier to manage and maintain all dataloggers. More detailed description can be found:

Krassovski, M. B., Riggs, J. S., Hook, L. A., Nettles, W. R., Hanson, P. J., and Boden, T. A.: A comprehensive data acquisition and management system for an ecosystem-scale peatland warming and elevated CO2 experiment, Geoscientific Instrumentation. Methods and Data Systems, 4, 203-213, doi:10.5194/gi-4-203-2015, 2015

Outside SPRUCE experimental chamber
Outside SPRUCE experimental chamber showing the supporting heating system.
Real Time Display showing key data
Real Time Display with a Map of the project showing real time data.

Measured parameters

Air temperature/RH, wind speed and direction, atmospheric CO2 /H2O, precipitation, solar radiation, soil moisture, soil temperature, sap flow, ground water level, and water conductivity.

Long term research!
The project has been running for multiple years and will continue into the future. With VDV the users can easily visualize any data. Here are the last 2 years plotted.
Aerial view of Marcell Experimental Forest
Aerial view of Marcell Experimental Forest.
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The results

The experiment will allow for the evaluation of responses across multiple spatial scales including: microbial communities, bryophyte populations, various higher plant types, and some faunal groups. Direct and indirect effects of these experimental perturbations will be tracked and analyzed over a decade for the development and refinement of models needed for full Earth system analyses. Monitoring of Industrial and urban diversion and discharge.

VDV is an invaluable tool for our experiment. The graphic displays allow us to monitor the temperature and CO2 treatments in the plots in near real time. We use VDV to share Level 1 data with our collaborators. VDV continues to prove its worth by allowing us to monitor conditions and make adjustments to treatments as needed. I don’t know how we could keep track of the large number of instruments without it.

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