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Research Tower at Blodgett Forest seeks Forest, Atmosphere and Air Pollution Relationship

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Associate Professor Allen H. Goldstein, biogeochemist in the Division of Ecosystem Sciences, conducts resesarch that seeks to understand the balance between the natural and man-made emissions of gases in controlling atmospheric composition, and to explain the biogeochemical processes controlling their sources. Recentl, his research group has been focused on understanding the interactions between forested ecosstems and teh atmosphere.

A major focus of his resesarch program has been the development of novel analytical approaches to make possible new avenues of research and to answer specific scientific questions that would otehrwise remain elusive. he has developed a highly instrumented research tower at CNR's Blodgett Forest Reseasrch Station in El Dorado County. It operates year-round and is a core site in the ameriFlux network, a system of sites throughout the Americas where scientists are studying the exchange of carbon, water, adn energy between ecosystems and the atmosphere.

"I am fundamentally interested in how our earth systems work and what changes to those systems have been caused by human activity," explained goldstein. "As a kid, I always enjoyed building things and enjoyed science and the outdoors. I had a knack for the skills involved in developing analytical instruments and wated to apply those skills and interests to real world problems."

At the Blodgett Forest tower site, Goldstein and his team continuously measure the fluxes - or vertical exchange - of a variety of gases and energy between a ponderosa pine plantation and the atmosphere.

"We are observing molecules going into and out of the forest. for many species, we are measuring gas concentrations 10 times a second, collecting on the order of 50 megabytes of data a day," Goldstein said. Blodgett Forest was chosen as the research site for two major reasons. 1) Ozone damage due to atmospheric deposition is widespread throughout the Sierra Nevada, and ponderosa pine is one of the most sensitive species to this damage. Observations at this site can be used to understand the processes controlling ozone uptake by the plants and how they respond to the natural variability imposed by the environment and 2) There had been speculation that emissios of many previously unidentified reactive hydrocarbons from the pine trees could be playing an important role in regional and global tropospheric chemistry. Observations at this site have provided the first long-term detailed measurements of natural emissios for several important hydrocarbons.

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