Biotic, abiotic and performance aspects of the Nevada Desert Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) Facility


Dr Dean Jordan, Department of Biological Sciences, Mail Stop 4004, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89154–4004, USA, fax +1/702 295-7501,


Arid and semiarid climates comprise roughly 40% of the earth’s terrestrial surface. Deserts are predicted to be extremely responsive to global change because they are stressful environments where small absolute changes in water availability or use represent large proportional changes. Water and carbon dioxide fluxes are inherently coupled in plant growth.

 No documented global change has been more substantial or more rapid than the increase in atmospheric CO2. Free Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) technology permits manipulation of CO2 in intact communities without altering factors such as light intensity or quality, humidity or wind. The Nevada Desert FACE Facility (NDFF) consists of three 491 m2 plots in the Mojave Desert receiving 550 μL L–1 CO2, and six ambient plots to assess both CO2 and fan effects. The shrub community was characterized as a Larrea–Ambrosia–Lycium species complex. Data are reported through 12 months of operation.