Desert Research Institute & Research Park

DRI CO2 study chosen as most interesting by Faculty of 1000 Biology

A study by DRI scientists in the Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences that was a cover story in the journal Nature has been chosen by the online research service Faculty of 1000 Biology as one of the most interesting papers published in 2008.

Faculty of 1000 Biology highlights and evaluates papers published in the biological sciences based on the recommendations of more than 2,300 researchers.

The study, Nature’s cover story for the September 18, 2008 issue, was authored by Jay Arnone, Paul Verburg, Richard Jasoni, Jessica Larsen and Bill Coulombe.

The study focused on quantifying the effects of a yearlong heat wave on grassland CO2 uptake. It was conducted at DRI’s greenhouse-like EcoCELL facility on the Reno campus, where 12-ton prairie-grass plots from Oklahoma are growing in a controlled environment that creates repeated and identical years of natural Oklahoma climate.

The four-year study found that after simulating one abnormally warm year in the EcoCELLs, the amount of CO2 taken up by the grassland ecosystems decreased for up to two years, limiting the role of grasslands as a sink for atmospheric CO2. The amount of CO2 absorbed from the atmosphere was effectively reduced three-fold during the course of the four-year study.

The paper was coauthored by scientists from the University of Nevada, Reno; University of Oklahoma; the University of New Hampshire, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

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