We propose to establish a free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiment in an old-growth forest in the Amazon basin near Manaus, Brazil. FACE technology has proven to be a valuable method to determine long-term, ecosystem scale responses of forests to elevated CO2 in temperate regions. However, no such experiment has ever been attempted in a tropical forest, despite the long-standing recognition in science and policy communities of the need for such an experiment.


We will begin with a pilot experiment of two 30-m diameter plots; the final experimental design will encompass four pairs of plots maintained at ambient or elevated CO2 concentrations for at least 10 years. The research site is a plateau at the ZF2 site within the Cuieiras Biological Reserve, an area that is representative of a dominant fraction of the forests of Amazonia. Experimental plots will comprise stands of 30-m tall trees on deep, well-drained clay soils. Managed by Brazil’s National Institute for Amazonia Research (INPA), the site has supported a long tradition of research on tropical forest ecology, forest management and biosphere-atmosphere interactions.


Five research questions that focus on carbon metabolism and cycling, water use, nutrient cycling, forest community composition, and interactions with environmental stressors will be the focus of the experiment. A multi-disciplinary team of scientists will employ state-of-the-art tools from deep in the soil to above the forest canopy. The resulting data sets will be valuable resources for a broad community of scientists. Significant scientific products from this experimental effort will derive from a strong interaction between data from the experiment and modelling.


Results from this project will be disseminated through peer-reviewed scientific journals, communicated to the general public, and prepared for government agencies and decision-making bodies with the goal of reducing uncertainty about the vulnerability to climate change of the Amazon forest and helping to steer future development policies for the Amazon region.

For further details please see the SCIENCE PLAN & IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY