UW Madison students research in Northwoods for forest productivity studySubmitted: 06/10/2015
Story By Nolan Blair

UW Madison students research in Northwoods for forest productivity study
PRICE COUNTY - Students from the University of Wisconsin Madison are spending the summer using the Northwoods to work on a study and become better scientists.

"This is a great place to study because we have a lot of great research partners up her," Associate Professor of Atmosphere and Oceanic Sciences Ankur Desai said. "The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest has always been very supportive of research."

Desai brought his class to Price County earlier this week. The class uses towers to measure greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane. It's a part of 20 year study on how the forest productivity changes. Productivity is the ability for the forest to absorb carbon dioxide.

"Atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing year after year with fossil fuel emissions and the question we ask is, well what percentage of that is staying in the atmosphere and what percentage is going into the landscape, because every year if you add more CO2 to the atmosphere the plants are going to take some of that up," said Desai.

In partnership with the US Forest Service, the class is also studying the effect of harvesting on the forest productivity.

"We're really interested to see how the forests have changed over the years," Desai said. "Surprisingly, in the last year of data that we just collected and we monitor this data 24/7, we are actually seeing a surprising change of productivity rate of this forest."

But just one year of data isn't enough to say what drove the drop in productivity. Factors like cold winters can also cause a drop. Regardless, information from the nearly 20 year study continues to be shared around the world.

"With colleagues around the University of Wisconsin system and internationally with universities and research centers, we combine our research with similar research centers around the world," said Desai.

If you would like to see the data from the study click on the link below.

Related Weblinks:
UW Madison research data

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