Margaret Conley '18 Continues Harvard Forest Study
"The goal of the study is to better understand what climate scientists call carbon sink in the terrestrial biosphere"
In 2006, Professor Mark Battle and colleagues built a proprietary data collection system to place in the Harvard Forest. The Harvard Forest, in central Massachusetts, is a private facility endowed by Harvard University for use by scientists interested in a range of fields from atmospheric chemistry to entomology.
Professor's Battle's study uses air sample collection to measure carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in
As the study has progressed, Professor Battle has taken on a number of students to assist in data collection and processing. Margaret Conley '18 made this work the focus of her
"Because the ocean absorbs CO2 differently than the terrestrial biosphere; knowing the ratio allows you to calculate the two types of sink separately"
In order to more accurately interpret the mass of data collected over 12 years, Conley made use of an application produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called highsplit:
By tracing the path of air entering the forest, Conley can compare and contrast the impacts of local and long-distance air exchanges; air traveling through different locations will have different effects on CO2 concentration in the forest. Conley says her typical day working on the project includes "graphing things, using Matlab, splitting up the data into manageable chunks and designing simple models to determine the relative importance of air source and local exchange".