Date: September 11, 2011
Nathan Phillips, Associate Professor
BOSTON, MASSACHUSSETTS — Water loss is closely coupled to carbon gain by plants and ecosystems. I study the physiological mechanisms and processes by which plants and ecosystems regulate water loss and carbon gain, and how such processes may be altered under global environmental change. This includes studying carbon fluxes in forested regions and urban areas. I am also very interested in building a model for "urban metabolism" based on continuous measurements of greenhouse gas emissions levels in cities over many months and comparing that metabolism to findings in rural or undeveloped / forested settings. Lastly, I am studying how methane leaks from aging natural gas infrastructure contributes to tree death in cities and affected areas and to the total carbon footprint of Boston and other major cities.
The stability, precision and ease-of-use of the Picarro analyzer has made my research infinitely easier and in some cases made it possible. We have an analyzer mounted on a rooftop at Boston University for our urban metabolism work and have used another analyzer in Harvard Forest for our comparative carbon flux measurements. These analyzers run flawlessly and give us excellent data of high precision showing precise nocturnal and diurnal carbon and methane levels in the ambient environment. I also use a Picarro for mobile measurements of methane concentrations as part of my natural gas research. Although it is a highly-sophisticated high-precision laser spectroscopy instrument, the Picarro is easy to put in a car and handles the rigors of mobile measurements (including bumps and vibrations) while allowing me to visualize data in near-real time at driving speeds and better target our movements to gather the best data.