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|Desert Research Institute unveils new research facilities at Boulder City reception|
Reception and Open House Thursday, Oct. 4, 4-6 p.m.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 20, 2007
LAS VEGAS – The Desert Research Institute will unveil its $1.2 million Underground Weighing Lysimeter Lab at its site in Boulder City, 1500 Buchanan Boulevard, on Thursday, Oct. 4.
The public is invited to join members of both the Boulder City Council and DRI Trustees at a reception and open house that will begin at 4 p.m. with a short program starting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4.
“The new lysimeter facility will be a state-of-the-art center, funded by the National Science Foundation, for precisely measuring the interactions among soil, water, and plants in arid settings,” said Stephen Wells, DRI President. “When completed, we envision the center as a magnet for high-end research conducted by faculty and students inside and outside of Nevada.”
The backbone of the project consists of a series of scientific instruments known as weighing lysimeters that are soil containers resting on large capacity balances. Lysimeters are typically used for studying plant water use, soil water budgets, and flow and transport of a variety of compounds. Each lysimeter is contained in a separate room, with a tunnel that connects each room, leading scientists from one side of the facility to the other. The lysimeters were built so that the outer walls of the container are not touching any part of the facility, allowing each one to float freely on the balance.
The top of the soil container is flush with ground surface. The free-floating aspect of the instrument is vital if the measurements from the balance are to be accurate. The requirement to have the lysimeter even with ground surface ensures that wind does not buffet the container, causing errors in the measurements. It also prevents soil and other material from either collecting on the lysimeter surface or being eroded from it.
Scientists in the State of Nevada have generated more than 20 hypotheses for experiments that can be conducted in the lysimeters. Many of these hypotheses address the basic science questions related to how disturbed arid soil naturally restores itself, how plants become established in desert environments, and how desert soils might sequester carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.
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