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LI-6400XT Literature: Customer Application Articles

Influence of climate change on terrestrial flowering or vascular plants in the Antarctic

Tad Day and fellow researchers at Arizona State Universitywere featured in a cover story in the May 2000 issue of the AmericanJournal of Botany.

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Tad Day's group studies the influence of climate change, particularly ozone depletion/UV radiation and regional warming on terrestrial flowering or vascular plants in Antarctica. The researchers work from Palmer Station on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, about 800 miles south of the tip of South America. To reach the station they must cross the Drake Passage in an icebreaker from South America, which takes 4-5 days. The main field site is on Stepping Stones, a small island about 2 miles from Palmer Station, which they travel to in a 16-foot motorized inflatable boat called a Zodiac. Because of high winds, heavy seas and ice, the researchers only reach the site about half of the time during the growing season, which runs from November through February.

According to Day, "We chose the LI-6400 for several reasons. We needed a compact photosynthesis instrument that was rugged enough to handle bouncing around in a Zodiac, sometimes in several inches of salt water, and being tossed from someone in the boat to someone on shore.

We also needed a system that was portable, since weather conditions deteriorate quickly, requiring immediate departures. Additionally, we were hoping for a system that would be amenable to various response curve measurements (temperature, light, CO2). Another consideration was support; the infrequent visits by our resupply icebreaker from South America (roughly every 4-6 weeks) required reliable technical support. We also wanted a system that was flexible, which meant being compatible with custom chambers and capable of measuring whole canopies and soil gas flux."

"Our LI-6400 has performed well in some rather extreme conditions. Some of our measurements involved leaving the instrument outside for several days to monitor diurnal patterns in CO2 concentrations and plant/soil fluxes. This included measurements in the very humid maritime climate around Palmer Station, where temperatures would frequently dip below 0°C."

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