Kessler Atmospheric and Ecological Field Station (KAEFS) New Warming Site
McClain County, Oklahoma, USA
The Kessler Atmospheric and Ecological Field Station (KEAFS) is a 360 acre (146 ha) environmental research and education facility located approximately 28 km southwest of the University of Oklahoma campus. It is home to a number of long-term meteorological and biological experiments. The mixed grass prairie ecosystem at KEAFS includes a diverse landscape with mixed and tall grass prairie, woodlands, and riparian communities. This site is an example of the predominant land use in the southern Great Plains and has a land use legacy commonly seen in this area.
IEG maintains a small (~600 m2) field site at KAEFS. The New Warming Site was established in 2009 to mimic climate change scenarios (temperature, precipitation, clipping) and allow us to observe how a tall grassland ecosystem responds to these conditions. The site is “new” relative to an old warming field site established 10 years earlier in the same area. This mixed-grass prairie is dominated by C3 forbs and grasses in spring and C4 grasses in summer.
The warming treatment is achieved by infrared heaters that increase the ground surface temperature by approximately 3 °C. A rain-out-shelter coupled with a rainfall-collection-redistribution device are used to manipulate precipitation. Plants are clipped at a height of 10 cm once a year and the clippings are removed to mimic the land-use practice of mowing for hay.