Silixa is collaborating with the University of Birmingham and the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research to fill the gaps in knowledge about climate change related to higher CO2 levels.

An outdoor laboratory has been created in a Staffordshire forest where scientists are artificially injecting CO2 into the air to study the effects of a CO2-enriched environment on trees and the ecosystem as a whole.

CO2 is the source of the carbon that plants turn into organic compounds and researchers assume that heightened levels of carbon emission may have a fertilizing effect on plants boosting growth increasing their ability to buffer climate change.

However, plants’ growth is the result of a complex interplay of multiple factors, amongst which water availability is particularly critical. Faster growing plants may draw more water than the soil can currently absorb, leading to increased soil dryness.

Silixa is helping scientists to determine the amount of water available in the soil using active distributed temperature sensing techniques (Active-DTS).

Active-DTS combines distributed temperature measurements with a heat pulse sent along the optical cable. Soil water content profiles at sub-metre scale can be extracted by analysing the heating and/or cooling phases of a several kilometre long optical cable buried in the soil.

The information provided is invaluable to researchers in finding answers to how the ecosystem will respond to increased CO2 levels and what the consequences will be.

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