The Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment

Introduction to Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiments
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Beginning in 1992 and continuing today, a number of studies of the potential effects of global climate change have been conducted at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. These studies have been led by scientists at Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Global Ecology (located on the Stanford campus) with scientists from other institutions participating.

Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, which is owned and operated by Stanford University, is located on the east side of the Outer Coast Range of central California near the Stanford campus. Jasper Ridge has a Mediterranean climate with cool, wet winters and very dry summers.

The Jasper Ridge global change experiments have been designed to exploit grasslands as models for understanding how ecosystems may respond to climate change. Although many experiments have been conducted to study the effects of climate change on plant species, relatively few have been done on an ecosystem scale. Jasper Ridge grassland ecosystems where chosen as model systems for several reasons. First, they are dominated by annual grasses, which have a number of advantages for these types of experiments. Annual grasses are relatively free of historical effects of climate change; their complete life cycle can be studied each year; they are small in stature making experimental design easier; and multiyear studies can potentially reveal changes in species composition over time. Second, these grasslands are rich in both species and plant functional types. Although much of the grassland at Jasper Ridge is dominated by annual grasses, other common functional types include early and late blooming annual forbs (non-grass, herbaceous plants), perennial grasses, and perennial forbs. Third, gophers frequently disturb Jasper Ridge soils, so experiments that cause moderate soil disturbance are not unrealistic in these ecosystems.

Two core experimental facilities have been central to Jasper Ridge global climate change experiments. The first were the 1992-1997 Open-top Chamber Facilities, which have been almost entirely dismantled. The second is the Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment facility, which began baseline measurements in 1997-98 and treatment manipulations in the 1998-99 growing season, and continues operating today. Both of these facilities enabled their own set of core studies as well as a number of related studies. To learn more about these studies, please explore the links shown on the left side of this page.


Field, CB, Chapin, FS, III, Chiariello, NR, Holland, EA, and Mooney, HA (1996) The Jasper Ridge CO2 Experiment: Design and Motivation. In: Carbon Dioxide and Terrestrial Ecosystems, pp. 121-145. Academic Press, San Diego.