Researchers planning a hot time in the arctic

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From Green Right Now Reports

Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory aren’t content to wait to see the effects of global warming in the arctic. Now, they are planning to speed up the process to get a sneak peek.

Photo: ornl.gov

ORNL is plotting a large-scale, long-term ecosystem experiment to try to accelerate understanding of the effects of increased temperatures on the icy layers of arctic permafrost. Scientists will purposely warm a test area in order to assess response to a change in climate conditions. Previously, researchers have studied the impact of climate change in more temperate regions such as East Tennessee, but this will be their first foray into colder conditions.

“The arctic regions are important to the topic of global warming because of the large land area they occupy around the world and the layer of permanently frozen soil, known as permafrost,” said Stan Wullschleger of the organization’s Environmental Services Division.

“Evidence is emerging that the arctic is experiencing a greater degree of warming than the rest of the globe. There is growing concern that this warming is already affecting a wide range of physical and ecological processes in the arctic, including permafrost degradation. Manipulative experiments will help us study these processes and their consequences in great detail.”

Researchers will develop specially designed above-and below-ground warming technologies to heat multiple plots of land about 20 meters in diameter. ORNL hopes to eventually replicate plots with treatments that include heating in combination with elevated carbon dioxide.

“The way we design and arrange the above- and below-ground heaters will allow us to warm the air and soil in a manner representing future conditions and then study the consequences of that warming,” Wullschleger said.




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