Hydrologist Dan Evans installing instruments at the top of the Eddy Flux tower. Mark Green photo.
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Standing high above the hardwood tree canopy of the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, a steel tower glistens in the sun. Scientific instruments mounted to the top of the 110-foot structure work non-stop, gathering data on moisture, carbon dioxide content and temperature. According to PSU Professor of Hydrology Mark Green, the Eddy Flux research tower is measuring how the forest reacts to changes in the atmosphere.
“We’re watching the forest breathing,” Green stated. “The instruments measure the carbon dioxide coming down during the day when the trees are photosynthesizing and then at night when they’re releasing carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. It also measures how much water is being released into the atmosphere during the day. The resulting change in air temperature helps measure how the forest is responding to climate warming.”
Green continued by saying the data from Hubbard Brook tells a scientific story, and those results must be correctly communicated to adopt fact-based environmental policy changes.
“We’re documenting how the forest is responding to carbon dioxide and temperature fluctuations, but if we’re not communicating it clearly as scientists, decision makers can’t develop policies to respond to what we’re seeing.”
The $50,000 cost of the tower was paid for, in part, by the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station, which has a critical interest in the health of thousands of acres of forestland in New England.
View of the core Eddy Flux instrumentation at the top of the tower with the Hubbard Brook experimental watersheds in the background. Mark Green photo.
“The forest has already shown us a lot,” said Green. “The precipitation we’ve seen this decade is a solid 15 percent higher than over the past 100 years. Whether that’s going to persist, we don’t know, but the forest definitely responds to events like that, through higher stream levels and increased potential for flooding.”
The tower also provides an extraordinary learning resource for Plymouth State students, according to Atmospheric Science and Chemistry Professor Eric Kelsey.
“Students learn about relationships between the energy, carbon and water budgets in Hubbard Brook and how they relate to forest ecosystem dynamics,” said Kelsey. “The proximity of the flux tower to PSU allows easy access for students to visit the site, learn about how the measurements are taken and then apply the concepts learned in class.”
For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or email@example.com.