The Warming Meadow Experiment

Dr. John Harte
Since 1990, John Harte and his students and colleagues have been studying the effects of climate warming on a subalpine meadow in Gothic CO, called the “warming meadow”. In the warming meadow, suspended heaters artificially warm subalpine meadow plots allowing direct observation of biotic and abiotic responses to additional energy inputs. This long-term experiment provides a means of discovering the actual mechanisms governing ecosystem responses to climate warming. For an overview of the meadow warming experiment findings and an interview with John Harte, check out Climate Change May Spur Loss of Mountain Meadows, Forest Shifts from the Aspen Daily News, 2007.

Major findings: ecosystem responses to climate change are likely to trigger large feedback effects that will likely enhance, not reduce, climate warming.

There are two ways to learn about the Warming Meadow Experiment:

  • Experience the Experiment (Premium access required.) You can watch the Warming Meadow Experiment come to life with animations and interactive activities. This module is geared toward high school and college students who want to experience an authentic science learning experience.

    In this module, students will:

    • Consider the factors related to setting up a field experiment.
    • Explore and apply datasets from a current RMBL experiment.
    • Think and make decisions like a field scientist.
  • Read about the Experiment You can learn about the Warming Meadow Experiment through text and diagrams.