O’Halloran told South Carolina Radio Network his team will study the data over an extended time period to investigate the development of statistical relationships between the variables that affect the trees’ growth.
“It’s a research tower that’s 120-feet tall and it sticks up above the trees.,” O’Halloran said. “And we use that to measure photosynthesis and carbon dioxide exchange with the forest. It the kind of information that’s useful to foresters. It helps us understand how forest grow.”
The Hobcaw Barony Mature Longleaf Pine tower is one of 326 sites registered as part of AmeriFlux, a network of principal investigator-managed sites measuring ecosystem CO2, water and energy fluxes in North, Central, and South America.
“Over the long-term, it helps us understand better about how the local climate is changing and how more importantly how the forests are responding to any changes that happen. We will be measuring that,” O’Halloran said.
A 2017 Clemson analysis measured the contribution of the forestry sector to the state’s economy at more than $21 billion and 84,000 jobs, making it South Carolina’s No. 1 manufacturing sector in terms of jobs and labor income ($4.5 billion).
The nonprofit Belle W. Baruch Foundation owns and manages Hobcaw Barony, a 16,000-acre property outside Georgetown dedicated to research and education. It also makes decisions on when and where to conduct prescribed burns on its pine forests.