July 2021: Experiment setup to artificially cross a desertification tipping point
In Namibia, close to the Waterberg plateau, we installed an experiment to artificially push small parts of a savanna ecosystem from a fertile grassland state beyond a tipping point to a degraded unfertile or even desert state. The experiment was set up within the NamTip project to study ecosystem patterns when a semi-arid savanna ecosystem is facing a degradation or desertification tipping point, driven by extraordinary droughts and overgrazing management. Here we apply different grazing regimes under normal and reduced precipitation conditions.
This tipping point experiment (TipEx) is now fully installed. Installation includes fencing off plots from the grazing area to apply controlled grazing regimes, installing rain shelters for drought simulations, installing soil barriers around plots, and installing soil sensors for continuous soil data collection. Full treatment can begin with the first rains in the upcoming 2021/2022 growing season!