Field Site

Tropical forests are famous for the diversity of life they contain.  But for us biogeochemists, they hold an additional draw: they’re truly an engine of the planet, pumping more water, energy and carbon dioxide in and out of the atmosphere every year than any other ecosystem type.  This means that the climate right here in Colorado – or anywhere else on Earth – depends in part on what tropical forests are doing.  That’s why I’ve been fascinated with them for more than twenty years, and why people in my lab spend a good deal of  their time trying to understand how tropical forests cycle the major biogeochemical elements.  It’s not just an esoteric egghead diversion (ok…it’s fun for that too…).  But to understand issues ranging from what our climate might be like in the future, to how clean our air and water will be, to where and how well we can grow the food the world needs, we need to know if tropical forests will store more or less carbon in the future, what they’ll do with the rising levels of nitrogen we drop on them – and how many of these forests will even be around.  Oh…and they’re a pretty fun place to work too…



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