Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate change scientists turn up the heat in Alaska

Date:
June 30, 2010
Source:
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Summary:
Scientists are planning a large-scale, long-term ecosystem experiment to test the effects of global warming on the icy layers of arctic permafrost.

A DOE study will test the impact of increased temperature on Arctic tundra.
Credit: Photo provided by researcher Stan Wullschleger

Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are planning a large-scale, long-term ecosystem experiment to test the effects of global warming on the icy layers of arctic permafrost.

While ORNL researchers have conducted extensive studies on the impact of climate change in temperate regions like East Tennessee, less is known about the impact global warming could have on arctic regions.

"We're beginning to take these lessons learned and start applying them to sensitive and globally important ecosystems, such as the arctic," said Stan Wullschleger of the Environmental Sciences Division. "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."

Wullschleger and a team of architects, engineers and biologists from ORNL and other national laboratories design, simulate using computers and then field test large-scale manipulative experiments that purposely warm a test area in order to evaluate ecosystem response to projected climate conditions.

"Evidence is emerging that the arctic is experiencing a greater degree of warming than the rest of the globe," Wullschleger said. "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."

In the arctic study for the Department of Energy's Office of Science, researchers seek to develop specially designed above-and below-ground warming technologies to heat multiple plots of land about 20 meters in diameter. ORNL researchers hope to eventually have replicated 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.

Wullschleger and others working on the project hope to discover whether carbon stored in permafrost will be released as the soil warms. This could have major consequences for climate.

Before work can begin, a team of engineers and architects must adapt the heater technology that has been used on the Oak Ridge Reservation to study temperate region plants like maple and oak trees to Alaska's harsh winters and icy soil.

"We're developing a prototype because we haven't tested the equipment under arctic conditions before. In parts of Alaska, temperatures will drop to minus-40 degrees Fahrenheit," Wullschleger said.

Results from the prototype tests, modeling simulations, and other scientific analyses will be used to determine the location of the long-term ecosystem experiment.

Wullschleger is collaborating with the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Fairbanks and the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium in Barrow, Alaska. The team plans to hold workshops in collaboration with the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska to get the science community involved in details of the planned experiment.

"That will be a major undertaking, and it will involve the support of the larger scientific community. We want to ensure, right from the beginning, that others are able to contribute to the development of this grand activity," Wullschleger said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Climate change scientists turn up the heat in Alaska." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100625185432.htm>.
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (2010, June 30). Climate change scientists turn up the heat in Alaska. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100625185432.htm
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Climate change scientists turn up the heat in Alaska." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100625185432.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins