Raj Whitlock 

Long-term Climate Manipulation

Established in 1993, the BCCIL is located on privately-owned calcareous grassland on the outskirts of Buxton in Derbyshire. Using a combination of heating cables, automated rain guards and a watering system, this experiment tests our understanding of how future climate change will impact upon ecosystems of the British Isles. There are five replicate plots, each containing nine 3m x 3m sub-plots for the various treatments and controls.

Climatic variables are manipulated experimentally to evaluate the impact of elevated winter temperatures (ambient temperature +3oC November to May), controlled summer drought (no rain July/August) and supplemented summer rainfall (ambient rain +20% July/August).

Temperature and soil moisture are logged continuously, with all plots subjected to simulated sheep grazing in October.

Each block contains three spare plots allowing new experiments to be introduced. These currently include investigations of the impacts of climate on invasibility and transplant experiments examining the effects of soil depth on the fitness of contrasted plant species.

To download a copy of the experimental design click here.

example of a rainfall cover (drought treatment plots)

example of a rainfall cover (drought treatment plots)

panorama of all plots, without rain covers

panorama of all plots, without rain covers

Seasonal Warming Microcosms

Each year, well-defined responses to the winter warming treatments are observed in the large-scale climate experiment. As warming by heating cables is only suitable when the vegetation is short, BCCIL has embarked on an alternative approach that can be applied to tall grassland.

Initiated in 2008, and now in the sampling phase, the microcosm experiment is specifically designed to detect impacts that are specific to the season in which warming is applied.

Matched grassland communities were established using transplants of the site's ten most abundant species together with two southern grasses (Brachypodium pinnatum and Bromopsis erectus).

Each of the 25 microcosms were allocated one of five treatments (four seasons plus a control) and subjected to warming of 3 degrees above ambient temperatures. 

Vegetation height was measured on a weekly basis.

BCCIL is managed by a Steering Committee, chaired by Raj Whitlock (University of Liverpool), alongside Karl Evans (University of Sheffield) and Emma Sayer (Lancaster University). If you are interested in accessing the site for research purposes, please contact the Steering Committee via the following e-mail address: Further information can be found on the BCCIL website.