Non-intrusive monitoring of atmospheric CO2 in analogue models of terrestrial carbon cycle
Lukac, M., Milcu, A., Wildman, D., Anderson, R., Sloan, T. and Ineson, P. (2011) Non-intrusive monitoring of atmospheric CO2 in analogue models of terrestrial carbon cycle. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 2 (1). pp. 103-109. ISSN 2041-210X
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-210X.2010.00058.x
1. Closed Ecological Systems (CES) are small manmade ecosystems which do not have any material exchange with the surrounding environment. Recent ecological and technological advances enable successful establishment and maintenance of CES, making them a suitable tool for detecting and measuring subtle feedbacks and mechanisms. 2. As a part of an analogue (physical) C cycle modelling experiment, we developed a non-intrusive methodology to control the internal environment and to monitor atmospheric CO2 concentration inside 16 replicated CES. Whilst maintaining an air-tight seal of all CES, this approach allowed for access to the CO2 measuring equipment for periodic re-calibration and repairs. 3. To ensure reliable cross-comparison of CO2 observations between individual CES units and to minimise the cost of the system, only one CO2 sampling unit was used. An ADC BioScientific OP-2 (open-path) analyser mounted on a swinging arm was passing over a set of 16 measuring cells. Each cell was connected to an individual CES with air continuously circulating between them. 4. Using this setup, we were able to continuously measure several environmental variables and CO2 concentration within each closed system, allowing us to study minute effects of changing temperature on C fluxes within each CES. The CES and the measuring cells showed minimal air leakage during an experimental run lasting, on average, 3 months. The CO2 analyser assembly performed reliably for over 2 years, however an early iteration of the present design proved to be sensitive to positioning errors. 5. We indicate how the methodology can be further improved and suggest possible avenues where future CES based research could be applied.