Biosphere 2 scientists study the impacts of drought on tropical rainforests

Biosphere 2 scientists study the impacts of drought on tropical rainforests

TUCSON, AZ – The global climate crisis raises questions about what a hotter, drier world will mean the future of our plants, animals, and ecosystems. An interdisciplinary team of more than 80 scientists from around the world came together to conduct an unprecedented experiment tracking the impacts of drought and drought recovery on a tropical rainforest. This experiment was funded in part by a grant from the European Research Council and spurred several partnerships, including one with Alicat Scientific, Inc.

The study took place at the Biosphere 2, a completely enclosed, man-made environment used for research and scientific discovery. The tropical rainforest biome boasts more than 90 different species of plants within an enclosed space the size of several tennis courts.

In October 2019, Christiane Werner of the University of Freiberg in Germany released nearly $20,000 worth of Carbon-13 into the Biosphere 2 rainforest biome. The release of the isotope was monitored closely using Alicat mass flow controllers. The experiment set up was complex. Data was acquired in a variety of ways including: tapping into tree xylem, bagging leaves, probing soil, and using air composition analyzers. Dr. Laura Meredith, the Director of Rainforest Research at Biosphere 2, said “the plants look a little bit like they’re hospitalized with all of the sensors.”1

It is known that rainforests play an important role in the global carbon cycle; what isn’t understood is how this function may change when a biome is water stressed. According to Dr. Meredith, this experiment sought to better understand if ecosystems will respond to droughts in a way that releases carbon and worsens climate change or “in a way that actually helps mitigate it, helps slow down the process.” [1]

As part of the Alicat partnership, the company is sponsoring Dr. Meredith to share the preliminary findings at PittCon 2020 in Chicago, IL. Dr. Meredith will be speaking from 1:30pm-1:50pm on Sunday, March 1st session #5-4-1 in room W176B.


Related links

  1. [1] “The State of Science.” Studying Drought, Under Glass. Melissa Sevigny, 1/10/20
  2. https://www.alicat.com/biosphere-2-using-flow-measurement-to-glimpse-the-future/
  3. https://www.laurameredith.com/?page_id=1293

Media Contact:
Mathew Devitt

About Alicat Scientific, Inc.

Alicat Scientific, Inc. pioneered the use of laminar differential pressure flow technology, improving on traditional differential pressure metering. The firm manufactures and develops custom flow control, flow meter, and pressure solutions for both gas and liquid applications.

About Biosphere 2 Water, Atmosphere, and Life Dynamics (B2WALD)

A team of scientists conducted a controlled whole-ecosystem drought and stable isotope labeling experiment in the Tropical Rainforest Biome of Biosphere 2 (B2). The campaign, named Water, Atmosphere, and Life Dynamics (WALD, meaning forest in German), is a collaborative effort led by Laura Meredith, B2 Tropical Rainforest Director, University of Arizona, Christiane Werner, ERC Consolidator Grant Awardee, University of Freiburg, Germany, and Nemiah Ladd, University of Freiburg, Germany.

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