Carbon stored in soils represents the largest carbon pool of terrestrial ecosystems with global estimates of organic pools of ca. 2400 Pg. Information on soil carbon dynamics is therefore essential to predict the future global carbon balance. Widespread recognition of the importance of soil CO2 efflux as a major source of CO2 to the atmosphere has led to active research in several biomes, including temperate, boreal, tropical, Arctic and deserts, over the last few decades.
While there is an ongoing need for further CO2 efflux measurements, the currently available instrumentation for continuous measurements, i.e. automated soil CO2 flux measurement chambers connected to an IRGA and equipped with sensors for soil moisture and soil temperature logging (the two single most important factors determining CO2 efflux rates), is expensive and only offered by a handful of manufacturers. Thus, less well-funded researchers worldwide, but especially those in non-western countries, have currently a very limited access to reliable automated systems. Furthermore, the current, multiplexed systems available on the market often limit the spatial arrangement of chambers, limiting the research set-up, and require excessive cable and tube connections to be installed in the field.
In recent years, a range of low cost IRGA sensors has been developed for industrial applications. This fact and the availability of affordable microcomputer platforms such as Arduino should allow to develop new, affordable-priced but equally reliable stand-alone IRGA gas flux systems for in situ studies. In addition, “modern” features, intrinsically available thru the microcomputer platform, such as wifi connectivity, integration in an ecosystem-of-things, remote control and data access, will reduce the necessity for field trips and thus cost—while the systems will run autonomously (but supervised) for month. In the project "CO2FluxI", we aim to integrate state-of-the-art technology at limited development costs by active collaboration with last-year students and teaching staff of the engineering college HTL Mödling, Austria.
We are actively searching for additional academic partners with experience on the technological aspects of gas flux measurements for submitting a joint proposal (e.g. FFG, Austria, 2018) and laboratory and field validation of a prototype (2019).
Established almost 100 years ago, the renowned HTL Mödling – the largest school in Austria – offers an extensive range of technical education opportunities. The school is organised into eleven departments, each focusing on a specific subject area. The departments offer a performance-oriented learning environment that caters to an individual’s specific needs. For decades, HTL Mödling graduates have enjoyed an outstanding reputation in their fields. Its successful track record in national and international competitions has also helped the school to remain internationally competitive. The numerous awards received by HTL Mödling – such as the Jugend Innovativ (for innovation), Bautechnikpreis (for engineering), Robot Challenge, Junior Challenge, and several language awards – are a testament to its excellence, competitiveness, and high standards. Many of the teachers come from the private sector and also teach courses at higher academic institutions and the college is involved in various international projects (co-)funded by the European Union. The collaboration partners of Vienna Scientific Instruments originate from different department of the HTL Mödling, but primarily study and teach at the school for mechatronics.