In the Loobos forest near Kootwijk, a huge steel structure was erected to facilitate research on greenhouse gases. It was officially opened last Friday. Among other things, the CO2 absorption by the surrounding forest will be measured by this observation tower for ecosystems.
At this location, researchers register how much CO2 the forest absorbs per day and how this is affected by seasons and disturbances such as heatwaves, droughts or nitrogen deposition. Forests worldwide, including the Loobos area, absorb about 30% of the CO2 emitted by humans. But this absorption capacity is under pressure because of such disturbances. The measurements will help to understand these processes better.
Greenhouse gases in the Netherlands
Michiel van der Molen, Air Quality lecturer at Wageningen University & Research: "This research infrastructure will be used for both research and education. But other parties can also place set-ups in it. For example, the RIVM (Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) will measure the amount of ammonia in the air. Those interested in using the tower are welcome to contact us."
The tower in the Loobos is part of the Ruisdael Observatory, a large project under the National Roadmap Large-scale Research Facilities (Dutch Research Council NWO), to measure greenhouse gases in the Netherlands. Through this project, Wageningen University & Research contributes to the overarching European Integrated Carbon Observing System project.
The Loobos site has one of the longest measurement series in Europe. The original tower was built in 1995. But because the trees started to outgrow it, it was replaced by a higher structure last March. At present a lot of equipment has been installed in the new tower, and the first measurements have started.
Some 40 people from different sectors, with expertise from Wageningen and outside of Wageningen, attended the opening. Michiel van der Molen: "The guests climbed the tower to enjoy the view. They exchanged ideas, as well as intentions for collaboration. Hopefully, this kick-started a fruitful use of the tower by as many groups as possible."