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Effects of Climate Change on Net Ecosystem Exchange of Irish Grasslands

Nuala Fitton

Nuala Fitton

Supervisors: Prof. M.B. Jones and Prof. J. Burke

The aim of this project is to predict the impact of climate change on the productivity of grasslands, and or whether grassland ecosystems are a carbon sink or source. To access the future climatic conditions in our experiment, we used the climatic data from the downscaling of the Global Circulation Model, the Hadley Climate Model (HadCM3). In brief the resulting downscaling provided 852 10 km X 10 km grid cells for Ireland. For each of these cells monthly climate data are defined. In particular we extrapolated the data specific for Carlow County where the experimental field is located. Using a multiple mesocosm enclosure facilities such as monoliths, which permit realistic comparisons of ecosystem responses to climatic factors, we sowed Lolium perenne cv. Cashel in monocultures and exposed them to either current climatic or future climatic scenario. A timed series of step wise changes in temperature and precipitation was used to create the control (near current climatic conditions) and treatment (near 2055 climatic conditions). We therefore aim to report differences between transient and equilibrium climate responses of Lolium perenne and attempt to quantify the combined effects of the climatic variables that are known to have an influence on the Net Primary Productivity (NPP) and quality of Lolium perenne growing in Ireland.

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Last updated 14 December 2009