Wednesday, June 13, 2018

SPRUCE Project

We were lucky enough to be given a tour of the SPRUCE Project in the Chippewa National Forest, North of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Our tour guide was W. Robert Nettles IV, SPRUCE Project Operations Manager at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. I went into the site fueled primarily by my lifetime of interest in the natural environment; as well as my interest from volunteering as a park ranger in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. However, by the time I was done, my interest in technology, from over 10 years as an IT professional, was thoroughly peaked! Definitely off the "beaten path," in a spruce bog in Northern Minnesota, this site boasts an incredible array of scientific equipment that is supported by an amazing technological infrastructure! There are control sites and some of the chambers have added heat, carbon dioxide, or both. A lot of equipment and experimental testing goes on 24/7, 365 days per year. These guys know their stuff. The 10 chambers are connected by fiber to the office which is connected by satellite to the network. A scientist in Washington can operate the camera looking at the roots of a Black Spruce, Tamarack or Labrador plant through his desktop computer. Best of all, this project should give a wealth of knowledge about how this northern ecosystem will react to global warming and whether stored carbon will be released in the process. Wow! My head is still spinning!

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