Samuel Seekins '14
Summer Research - Carbon and Oxygen Stoichiometry of the Harvard Forest Ecosystem
In a world where there are many signs of current and future climate change it is crucial that we thoroughly understand how to model and interpret changes that we see in the environment around us. One commonly used method is to monitor and model the changing carbon dioxide levels known to be linked with temperature changes. Most current models assume a relatively simple model of carbon dioxide and oxygen flux. However, in ecosystems with diverse biological activity one cannot assume a constant consumption/production ratio if considering a plant’s need for water and nutrients. It is our opinion that current models can be improved and we would like to contribute to that improvement. Therefore we have collected air samples from the top canopy of the trees as well as mid-way to the ground and analyzed their CO2 and O2concentration. The data collected has to be cut and refined to the point that it is presentable while excluding periods known to produce potentially poor data. Much of the behind the scenes work involved writing the code that would process the data and prepare it for analysis, graphing, etc. It is our hope that our tracking of these CO2 and O2 levels in this environment will assist the greater scientific community in using a more accurate way to analyze the stoichiometry of CO2 and O2 and generating predictions for the build-up of CO2 in the future.