Back to Cors Fochno

ImageOne of the major projects I have been working on over the last four years is a climate change impacts study. The impacts of climate change on peatlands is a key uncertainty in our understanding of possible future carbon cycles. We have been simulating climate change on two bogs: Whixall Moss on the English-Welsh border and Cors Fochno (Borth Bog) on the Welsh coast not far from Aberystwyth. The original aim of having two sites was to consider the possible role of pollution in sensitising peatlands to climate change: Whixall Moss has high levels of nitrogen pollution while Cors Fochno is quite clean (in hindsight it seems likely that other factors are more important in the differences between the two sites). Our experiments have two treatments: warming and drought. The plots are 2x2m and surrounded by plastic piling, the warmed plots have transparent plastic open top chambers to passively warm the surface while the drought plots have a (globally-unique!) system where water is actively pumped out of the plots. The experiments were originally part of the PEATBOG project which finished last year: you can find out more about that on the website and our former blog. Since the formal end of the project we have been keeping the Cors Fochno experiment on tick-over while we removed the Whixall experiment earlier in the year as we don’t have the resources to keep both running. I will write more about the results of the study some other time. On Wednesday we are interviewing for a new PhD student who will work on the experiment as part of a NERC algorithm studentship. When the student starts we hope to resume more intensive sampling. I am writing this from our usual B&B in Borth having just spent the day in the field. In this tick-over phase we are just downloading data-loggers, measuring CO2 fluxes and collecting litterbags. Today’s fieldwork has been delightfully warm and sunny, something of a rarity in west Wales! Fingers-crossed it continues for tomorrow.

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