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.

Related Articles


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 February 28, 2015 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 February 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bridge Collapses Due to Flooding in Bolivia

Bridge Collapses Due to Flooding in Bolivia

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 28, 2015) Heavy rain and flooding sweep through parts of Bolivia causing damage and leaves more than 2,000 people homeless. Sophia Soo reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

AFP (Feb. 27, 2015) More than 200 people have been killed in a series of avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall in Afghanistan. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 27, 2015) The presidents of France and the Philippines issue a joint appeal for a binding agreement on climate change. Katie Sargent reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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