In twelve gas and airtight Ecotrons, ecologists at the University of Hasselt are working through different scenarios that could become reality in the not-too-distant future. What happens to an ecosystem when air temperature increases or when precipitation distribution, CO2, or methane content changes? More importantly, how will a plant community react to these climate changes?
The twelve Ecotron lysimeters are among the largest lysimeters in the world. The project measures over 100 different parameters, on three profiles, at five different depths. This enables researchers to characterize the state of the ecosystem and derive adaptation strategies for the future.
A PROJECT THAT PUSHES BOUNDARIES REQUIRES TECHNOLOGY THAT OVERCOMES BOUNDARIES
In Ecotrons, environmental conditions such as air pressure, precipitation, gas composition, and more can be set individually. The only natural parameter is sunlight, which strikes the undisturbed soil column almost unhindered. This allows the development of plant communities under changing conditions to be observed and measured.
The Center for Environmental Sciences (CMK-UHasselt) and the Plant and Vegetation Research Group (PLECO-UAntwerp)—together with the Sphere Group (UAntwerp)—combine their knowledge in the Center for Excellence ECO. Together, they are building one of the world’s most advanced research infrastructures. The Ecotrons of the University of Hasselt are part of this project.
METER Group lysimeters measure matric potential, temperature, precipitation, water content, electrical conductivity, evaporation, evapotranspiration, CO2, methane content, and many other parameters—with unmatched precision and reliability.