Variable Atmosphere Laboratory (VAL) Workshop 2

Project: Research project

Project Details


Variable Atmosphere Laboratory (VAL) Workshop 2 REU: Variable Atmosphere Laboratory (VAL) Workshop 2 This is a request for funds to support a workshop to discuss the design and implementation of a national facility to study the effects of atmospheric composition and climate on biological and earth processes We are proposing the creation of a large scale Variable Atmosphere Laboratory (VAL) with multiple units (henceforth called miniworlds) in which atmospheric composition, temperature, humidity, UV radiation, atmospheric pressure and light cycle can be controlled, and in which careful measuring of the fluxes of important biological and atmospheric molecules can be measured. VAL would serve a wide variety of research fields, including geology, ecology, plant physiology, paleontology, animal physiology, astrobiology and environmental toxicology, and would be transformative in supporting experimental analysis of the effects of past, current, and future climate change. This workshop is a follow-up to an initial VAL workshop funded by NSF held at Arizona State University on Feb 23-24, 2008. VAL workshop I brought together a broad group of ecologists, geologists, paleontologists, evolutionary biologists, plant and animal physiologists, and respiratory medicine experts. Leading up to this first workshop, ASU funded an initial architectural design and high-end cost estimate from IDC Architects that served as a basis for discussion. The participants of that workshop strongly endorsed the concept of VAL, detailed specific types of experiments that could be made possible by VAL, and identified key design features necessary for VAL to serve a broad community. The workshop participants have submitted an opinion piece to Global Change Biology calling for the US to construct VAL, and were invited to present to the DuPont Summit, a summit aimed at advising the new administration on the most important scientific challenges over the next four years.. However, the pathway to implementation of VAL is unclear as the cost is relatively large (estimated at $100M+) relative to regular grant programs. The best model for how to create a new national facility in environmental science comes from the NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). NEON came about through a series of six workshops that built a broad concensus on the need for environmental monitoring on a broad scale, followed by a two year grant to a scientific society (AIBS, American Institute of Biological Sciences). Discussions of Dr. Jon Fink, the Director of Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU with NSF program officers in the summer of 2008 also supported the idea of using a second NSF workshop specifically focused on taking the idea of VAL to a broader community, to work on an implementation strategy and to continue to build scientific concensus. The purpose of this workshop is present the conclusions of VAL workshop I to representatives from an array of federal agencies (NASA, DOE, USDA, EPA, NIEHS, NSF), and a broad group of excellent scientists. We will solicit their expertise on the need for VAL, improvements in design, and the pathway to implementation.
Effective start/end date5/1/094/30/10


  • NSF: Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO): $29,855.00


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