BEACHON Project Image 1
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BEACHON Project (Image 1)

July 14, 2010
BEACHON (Bio-hydro-atmosphere interactions of Energy, Aerosols, Carbon, H2O, Organics and Nitrogen) researcher Peter Harley inserts the needles of a ponderosa pine into a glass enclosure in order to measure the biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOC) that are emitted by the leaves.

BEACHON is an international field project, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., and supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), that will explore how trees and other vegetation influence rainfall, temperatures, smog and other aspects of the atmosphere.

Plants take in and emit chemicals that affect the air, and they also absorb varying amounts of incoming heat from the sun. When portions of a forest die, the local atmosphere can change in subtle ways. "Forests help control the atmosphere, and there's a big difference between the impacts of a living forest and a dead forest," says NCAR scientist Alex Guenther, a principal investigator on the project. "With a dead forest, we may get different rainfall patterns, for example."

During the four-year project, scientists will use aircraft and ground-based instruments, as well as computer models, to study interactions between the planet's surface and the atmosphere. To learn more about the project, see the NSF press release "Pine Bark Beetles Affecting More than Forests," or visit NCAR's BEACHON Web site Here.

NCAR is supported by NSF and other federal agencies to provide facilities and support for a wide range of studies in the atmospheric and related sciences. NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), a nonprofit consortium of universities that grants Ph.D.s in fields related to atmospheric science. UCAR's primary function is managing NCAR. [Image 1 of 2 related images. See Image 2.]

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