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Precipitation manipulation

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Pending completion in 2024, the precipitation manipulation research area at Harvard Forest was designed to mimic extreme precipitation events affecting temperate forests subject to fragmentation. Encompassing a mature forest edge within Harvard Forest's Prospect Hill tract, nearly one-acre of impermeable cover intercepts roughly 90% of precipitation so that it does not reach the forest floor. Excess precipitation is collected and flows through an automated watering system that increases precipitation by roughly 90% on an adjacent one-acre plot. Both experimental plots and an adjacent control plot include "edge" forests, or those that are adjacent to non-forested land. 

Image shows the precipitation manipulation area near completion in early 2024. Photo by Ben Goulet-Scott.

Designed in response to prior limitations imposed by studies that only examined interior forest carbon sequestration, this experimental area allows research between the interactive effects of forest fragmentation and climate on tree growth and forest carbon sequestration.

This project was initiated in 2022 by Andrew Reinmann, a visiting researcher whose home institutions are The Advanced Science Research Center and Hunter College, both at The City University of New York.