Brief History of the Mojave Global Change Facility (MGCF)
This effort examined the impact of global climate change factors other than increased CO2 on the Mojave Desert Ecosystem, namely changes in precipitation, nitrogen deposition and soil surface disturbance. At the start of this project global climate change models predicted that rising levels of atmospheric CO2 would increase summer monsoon rains in the Mojave Desert. Increases in urbanization and cattle grazing were predicted to result in increased nitrogen deposition and disturbance or destruction of the biological soil crust (BSC). The BSC is composed of cyanobacteria, lichen and moss, and is present at the surface of most desert soils. This crust plays an important role in making nitrogen available to desert plants. Three treatments based on the above predictions were applied to the 96 MGCF plots (14 by 14 m). These treatments included three summer irrigation treatments (25 mm each), two levels of nitrogen fertilization (10 and 40 kg/ha), and crust disturbance. A randomized block design was used to establish the treatments for each plot. The results from the MGCF have been and are continuing to be combined with data from NDFF to make predictions on the overall impact of future climate to the Mojave Desert, which in turn can assist with better land management, restoration and revegetation efforts.
Although no new research is currently funded for research at MGCF, the plots are being maintained for future potential research. Irrigation treatments were discontinued after 2008 when climate models predicted a dryer climate for the Mojave; crust disturbance treatments were discontinued after 2010. Fertilizer treatments have continued through 2011-12.