About FACE: more results to come

ORNL photo
Some sweetgum trees that were part of the CO2 experiment have been “girdled” to keep carbon from flowing to the roots.
I’ve written a couple of pieces recently about results from the 12-year-old FACE (Free-Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment) experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which I’ve tried to track periodically over the years. A newly published paper shows that the exposure to C02 increased the storage of carbon in the soil — a finding that could be of significance looking forward.
Today I got a message from Rich Norby, longtime leader of the FACE research effort in Oak Ridge and a Corporate Fellow at ORNL, and he said there will be more information to come from the project, even though the CO2 experiment concluded a couple of years ago.
“We still have a lot more papers to write from the experiment, so FACE won’t be going away any time soon,” he said. “But planning for new activities is taking priority right now.”

Norby said ORNL is still using the FACE site (with its stands of sweetgum trees) for “follow-on” experimental work.
He said researchers “girdled” (stripped the bark off) half the trees at the experimental site last year to prevent any carbon flow to the roots.
“We will continue monitoring carbon fluxes this year, making use of the unique isotopic signature in the soil from the 12 years of FACE exposure,” Norby wrote. “My colleagues Jeff Warren and Colleen Iversen are largely running this experiment, and I am pleased to see them taking charge.”
Norby said he and others in an international collaboration are using data from the ORNL and Duke FACE research sites to challenge some of the ecosystem and global models. He said he would be talking about that next week at a workshop in Washington, and papers should be forthcoming later in the year.

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.