Such large experiments are not possible without heavy machinery. First of all, there is the roughly 1000 horse power wave maker which enables us to produce our artificial storm floods. But we are also grateful for the two portal cranes which transport the pallets into the flume, lift our measuring equipment in and out every day and make for a great commute to work.
The forklift truck that transports pallets outside the flume almost looks small compared to these heavy weights, but is equally important. For all these machines insurance companies insist on special training and they can thus only be operated by the FZK team. But there is one impressive machine that we run ourselves.
The ‘Instron’ is a multipurpose device which we use to measure stiffness of the plant stems using a three-point-bending test. During this test, a bar pushes down onto the middle of a piece of plant stem and the Instron measures how hard it needs to push to achieve a defined distance downwards. By testing a subset of plants at the beginning and end of each week, we will get a feel for any changes in stiffness that may have been caused by the four storm wave conditions we expose the plants to each week in the wave flume. Additionally, it will help us to interpret any response differences between plant species that we observe after each test run.
It needs a fair amount of samples to detect any differences between species in all the natural scatter. And because we only have a limited amount of seedlings in the flume, we brought some spares which were grown under the same conditions to produce sufficient data for robust statistical analysis and to keep the Instron busy.