These guys are as adept with a lug wrench as they are with a mass spectrometer. Prof. Dan Yakir (second from right) and members of his group had to become licensed truck drivers to operate their newest equipment – which is all packed into a custom-built truck for hauling around the country. Until now, Yakir and his team have been working from the Yatir station – a fixed tower set in a pine forest on the edge of the Negev desert. This station is part of a global network that continuously measures carbon exchange and other nutrient cycles in different forest settings. Now, he and his team will be able to compare and contrast these processes in the various types of forests around the country.
While the research of Yakir and his fellow FLUXNET scientists is crucial to understanding the global carbon cycle, he doesn’t discount the “cool” side of the Biosphere-Atmosphere Research Mobile Lab. Its equipment, for instance, includes a 30-meter telescopic mast for raising monitors high above the canopy. In fact, Yakir is hoping that the lab will become a magnet for high-school students – both to attract them to science careers and to make the science of climate change more accessible to them – not to mention a blast.