W. H. Cooke Tackles Global Climate Change

W. H. Cooke was contacted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee to quote and supply special high accuracy multipoint temperature sensors for the “SPRUCE” project in Bovey, Minnesota. The sensor assemblies were quite special, took approximately 4 months to procure materials and build. They were all tested prior to being loaded into a van and driven 1250 miles to the job site by Wayne Cooke Sr. and his brother Gary Cooke. Once they located the site (deep inside the Marcell Experimental Forest) the sensors were unloaded and all 50 checked for proper output and to make sure connections were secure after the long overland trek. They were then stored in a mobile trailer for installation at a later date. Read the original story of the SPRUCE project at Northland News Center, republished below.

Bovey, MN (NNC- NOW.com) — Questions about global warming may find answers at a research site north of Grand Rapids. That’s where scientists have begun an unprecedented study into how warming temperatures affect ecosystems.

“This is the grandest, most ambitious, climate-related experiment ever attempted on the planet,” said USDA Forest Service research scientist, Randy Kolka.

Since 2009, Kolka, Paul Hanson with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and other researchers have been working on the SPRUCE.

An acronym for Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Climate and Environmental Change Experiment, SPRUCE will measure how peat land ecosystems respond to changing temperatures. Ten, 35–foot chambers in northern Minnesota’s Marcell Experimental Forest will be warmed to different temperatures, ranging from zero to 16 degrees Fahrenheit. Some chambers will have elevated levels of carbon dioxide.

Scientists started warming SPRUCE on August 13. They celebrated the project Wednesday by inviting community members to tour it.

“Our temperature gradient that we’re using is going to really inform these global circulation model, the models that predict our future climate,” said Kolka.

Just as important is the experiment’s location, in the peat lands of north ern Minnesota. Peat lands make up just three percent of the earth’s land surface, but they contain about 30 percent of the carbon found in soil. It’s all that carbon that makes the ecosystems so critical in studying global climate change.

“The two important greenhouse gases that are leading to the warming of our planet are carbon dioxide and methane,” said Kolka, “Those greenhouse gases come out of these peat land ecosystems.”

“Lots of old carbon, lots of uncertainty of what happens to it, if in fact it were faced with warming at various levels,” said Hanson to a group during Wednesday’s open house.

It’s uncertainty that scientists hope to clear up as they spend the next ten years conducting the experiment.

The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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