LEEF Global Climate Change Systems

One of the biggest challenges facing our planet today is global climate change. In order to better understand global climate change we need to understand all of the components of the global carbon budget. Soil CO2 flux is a major component of the total carbon budget but is often overlooked and understudied because of the difficulty in making accurate measurements.

Why soil flux measurements? Because there is more carbon in the soil than the atmosphere and vegetation combined! Soil CO2 flux to the atmosphere far exceeds (nearly 10 times) the amount of CO2 released from fossil fuels and other related emissions. Production of CO2 in soil is tightly coupled with the soil organic content and microbial population as well as the moisture, rain event, temperature, and plant growth activity. These factors, along with spatial heterogeneity in the soil properties, lead to a great deal of variability of soil CO2 flux.

How can students learn more about Global Climate Change? LI-COR Biosciences developed the LI-8100A Automated Soil CO2 Flux System to measure soil CO2 flux and other related applications using novel chamber designs supplemented by exclusive software to analyze the data collected. LI-COR offers two systems that allow the students to have hands-on experience taking measurements, analyzing the data collected and making scientific conclusions regarding climate change.

The two LEEF Global Climate Change Systems allow for faculty and students to perform many applications beyond just soil flux measurements. The following are examples that can be used as field exercises for teaching, as well as undergraduate research:

  1. Learn about carbon storage and the theory behind soil CO2 flux measurements.
  2. Make fast, easy and repeatable survey measurements.
  3. Choose a variety of ecosystems to study such as flat vs. sloping grassland, a forested area, an urban area or an agricultural field.
  4. Study the spatial variability of soil CO2 flux over these areas and learn how to:
    1. Cover large areas and take quick survey measurements.
    2. Map changes in soil CO2 flux by repeating the same measurements over a period of weeks.
    3. Identify variability during various times of the day and under different conditions when multiplexing (i.e., day-night, wet-dry).
  5. Estimate the flux rate of trace gases by collecting samples from the same air stream used to measure CO2 fluxes.
  6. Use the analyzer for small volume gas sampling.
  7. Learn the importance and theory behind Net Carbon Exchange measurements.
  8. Perform net ecosystem exchange measurements.
  9. Explore CO2 fluxes from discrete samples enclosed in custom chambers using flask measurements.
  10. Measure CO2 concentration levels at different heights in a canopy.

In order to meet the needs of various undergraduate institutions in the United States and Canada, LI-COR offers two different systems.

Which LEEF system is best? The LEEF Carbon Monitoring System is designed for multiple applications and offers the flexibility for students to perform undergraduate research in as many as 10 different topics or to be used by faculty in a diverse curriculum. The LEEF Climate Change System is designed for faculty and students who want to concentrate on soil flux measurements.

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