An improved Solardome system for exposing plants to elevated CO2 and temperature



Ventilated Solardomes (hemispherical glasshouses) have been used for 20 yr for studying the effects of gaseous pollutants on plants. This paper describes a computer-operated facility for studying the effects of CO2× temperature regimes on plants. The eight chambers were set up for factorial design experiments - with two levels of CO2 (ambient and ambient + 340 ppmv), two levels of temperature (ambient and 3 °C tracked continuously above ambient) and two replicates of each CO2× temperature treatment. Monitoring of environmental conditions within the chambers over a 2 yr period has shown highly effective control of CO2 and temperature regimes. Even with high-quality and u.v.-B transmitting glass, the irradiance in the PAR region Was reduced by 18% within the domes. Variation in temperature across the radii of the domes increased with higher photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD). Vapour pressure deficits CVPDs) in the ambient temperature domes compared well with outside conditions hut were higher in the elevated temperature domes. The watering regime within the domes affected intermittently the relationship between ‘dome’ and ‘outside’ VPDs. The Solardome facility has been used extensively for studies of the impacts of climate change within the UK Programme on Terrestrial Initiative on Global Environmental Research (TIGER).