The global warming ponds are a specialist scientific facility owned by the Freshwater Biological Association and used by scientists from several universities to conduct research on the effects of global warming on freshwater ecosystems.
There are 56 tanks in total, 20 of which are sunk into the ground and instrumented for warming and experimentation. These tanks are in pairs, one of which is at ambient temperature, while the other is artificially warmed by between 2 and 4 °C.
Each tank has a capacity of 1.3m3 which sufficient to support a range of plant, invertebrate and small fish species, together with algae and microorganisms. These small enclosures or ‘mesocosms’ provide near natural pond conditions in which an environmental factor (in this case temperature) can be realistically manipulated and the effects on the ecosystem can be examined.
Research so far has focussed on studies of the relative rates of photosynthesis and respiration in a warming environment, and the effects of temperature on exchanges of carbon between the water column, organisms, sediments and atmosphere.