Northeastern Minnesota Experiment to Study Effects of Climate Change
Construction is underway on the $50 million project, called SPRUCE (Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Climatic and Environmental Change). The project is located in the Marcell Experimental Forest, north of Grand Rapids.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the project is a collaborative effort between the USDA Forest Service and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is located in Tennessee.
Once up and running, the experiment will slowly heat 12 to 16 transparent chambers, which will be about 30 feet tall and 40 feet in diameter. The scientists will slowly heat the chambers to various temperatures, measuring how the entire ecosystem, from soil to treetops, responds to elevated temperatures and carbon dioxide levels.
Temperatures in the experiment's warming chambers will be increased by as much as 18 degrees. While an 18-degree temperature increase in the earth's atmosphere is unlikely, the dramatic temperature shift in the experiment will allow the researchers to find the ecosystem's "tipping point."