Jeremy Chen, 2011, Civil and Environmental Engineering

This project sought to understand the distribution and dynamics of belowground carbon in savannas. We worked on the Kalahari Transect in western Botswana at a series of research sites that span a rainfall gradient. Dry season (summer) field work included three major activities: 1) excavating and mapping the root systems of trees and woody shrubs to determine their mass, geometry, depth and lateral extent; 2) measuring ecosystem-level belowground biomass by sampling root biomass, collecting soil samples, and conducting surveys with a ground penetrating radar; and 3) measuring the response of soil CO2 flux to experimental wetting treatments. Doing this at four sites along a rainfall gradient allowed us to investigate how water availability influences the ecosystem carbon cycle.