The University of Arizona

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

A Dry Season for Arizona's Rainforest

Thursday, January 16, 2020

KNAU Arizona Public Radio (NPR) interviewed Dr. Laura Meredith about her ongoing study of rainforest ecology in Biosphere 2 (view full article here). Last fall, Dr. Meredith and her colleagues shut off the water supply and released carbon dioxide into Biosphere 2's enclosed rainforest. By simulating the effects of climate change on an ecosystem-scale, they hope to evaluate how rainforests respond to drought-induced stress predicted under future climate scenarios.
 
The carbon dioxide is labeled with carbon-13, a ‘heavy’ form of carbon that instruments can easily detect, allowing researchers to track the carbon through the ecosystem. If drought does alter how plants intake and output carbon, the team will be able to monitor the changes in the controlled environment of Biosphere 2.
 
Ultimately, Dr. Meredith is hoping to understand how resilient rainforests are to drought and whether trees respond to arid conditions in a way that alleviates or exacerbates increases in atmospheric carbon. Her findings will inform models needed to predict how ecosystems will respond to climate change.
 
The project has received significant interest from the press (her work was also featured in Science magazine here) and the interview was recently featured on Science Friday's "The State of Science" series.
 
Slideshow Photo by Maros Misove on Unsplash