Contribution from: Agricultural University of Iceland – AUI (Bjarni D. Sigurdsson)
Understanding and predicting how global warming affects the structure and function of both natural and managed ecosystems is a key challenge of the 21st century. On 29th of May 2008, there was a large earthquake in S-Iceland that moved a geothermal system to new and previously “cold” areas covered by a 45 year old Sitka spruce plantation and unmanaged grasslands, which increased their soil temperature by +0 to +47 °C. These gradients yielded ideal conditions to study how soil warming affects ecosystem structure and function and to explore the causal effects of warming on terrestrial ecosystem processes.
Since 2011 the Agricultural University of Iceland (AUI) has used these ‘natural laboratories’ to build up a large European research project entitled: “FORHOT – Natural soil warming in natural grasslands and a Sitka spruce forest in Iceland” that takes advantage of these unique natural (geothermal) soil temperature gradients that exist in Iceland. Apart from Icelandic partners, participants from 15 other European universities and research institutes take an active part in the research project at present. Those include: Denmark: Aarhus Univ. and Univ. of Copenhagen; Finland: UEF; Sweden: SLU and Lund Univ., Estonia: Univ. of Tartu; Austria: Univ. of Vienna and BOKU; Belgium: Univ. of Antwerp; Germany: Thünen Inst. of Climate-Smart Agric.; Netherlands: VU Amsterdam and Univ. of Leiden; Poland: Card. Stefan Wyszynski Univ.; Spain: UAB and Univ. of Granada.
For further info see www.forhot.is
A Nordic-Baltic research group collaborating within the CAR-ES project at the ForHot fieldsites in 2013. Photo: Bjarni D. Sigurdsson.
Two research students make NDVI measurements along the grassland soil temperature gradients in early spring 2016. Photo: Bjarni D. Sigurdsson.
Winter GHG-flux measurements (CO2, N2O, CH4) in 2015 from warmed grassland soils. Photo: Bjarni D. Sigurdsson.
Soil biologist at work in late autumn 2014. In the distance the green color shows warmed grassland soils. Photo: Bjarni D. Sigurdsson.
Part of the warmed Sitka spruce forest stands in 2013. Dead standing trees indicate where soil warming was >20 °C. Photo: Bjarni D. Sigurdsson.
A geothermal vent outside the FORHOT research area. Photo: Edda S. Oddsdottir.