Tropical Forest Warming Experiment
We will have three small warmed areas that are about the size of a circular trampoline (14 feet diameter) that will warm soil and small plants only. The amount that we are increasing temperature (7 degrees F) is well within the present range of what El Yunque National Forest experiences seasonally. In the future, we hope to warm some individual leaves from approximately 4 mature trees that can be accessed from a scaffolding tower, but again, the effect will be so small that the trees will not be harmed. The study area is not located in a pristine area of El Yunque National Forest, but in an area of secondary forest that was previously pasture. Nevertheless, we are taking great care to cause minimal disturbance with this project. For example, the majority of our measurements will be performed by automated sensors, and the collection of leaves and soils for analysis is severely restricted. Also, the warmed area is completely open. This means that animals can come and go freely. While this is the first warming project to be conducted in a tropical forest, the method of warming that we are using has been successfully used in dozens of different ecosystems throughout the world for decades. We would like to stress that the purpose of TRACE is to assess the potential effects that global warming poses to tropical forests, and to use this knowledge to help ensure that El Yunque can be enjoyed by many generations to come. We are conscientiously doing so with very minimal impact on the environment, and we invite concerned citizens to learn more about our project through this website, look at our Project Photos, or click HERE for more information.