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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 25 No. 3, p. 614-625
    Received: June 13, 1995

    * Corresponding author(s): dtingey@mail.cor.epa.gov
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A Versatile Sun-lit Controlled-Environment Facility for Studying Plant and Soil Processes

  1. David T. Tingey *,
  2. Bruce D. McVeety,
  3. Ron Waschmann,
  4. Mark G. Johnson,
  5. Donald L. Phillips,
  6. Paul T. Rygiewicz and
  7. David M. Olszyk
  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 200 SW 35th Street, Corvallis OR 97333;
    Battelle Pacific Northwest Lab., P.O. Box 999, Richland, WA 99352;
    MERSC, 200 SW 35th Street, Corvallis OR 97333.



A new environmental-tracking, sun-lit controlled-environment facility (terracosm) that can control and manipulate climatic and edaphic factors while maintaining natural environmental variability was developed to study the effects of environmental stresses on a model ecosystem (i.e., plant and soil processes). An analysis of terracosm performance data indicates that the terracosms simulated natural seasonal and diurnal changes in atmospheric CO2, air and soil temperatures, vapor pressure deficit (VPD), and soil moisture. The terracosm performance data indicate that between 92 and 100% of the hourly CO2 concentrations are within ±50 µmol mol−1 of the target concentrations for both ambient and elevated treatments (1 Nov. 1993 through 30 Nov. 1994). Air temperatures are within 2°C of the target temperature between 85 and 100% of the hours for both ambient and elevated temperature treatments. The VPD was approximately the same (0.09 kPa difference between treatments) in the ambient and elevated temperature treatments. Distributed process control was implemented to minimize downtime. Terracosm downtime, periods when terracosm environmental conditions could not be reliably controlled, varied between 2.4 and 2.8% of all hours, and was equally distributed between biological sampling and equipment problems.

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