Facilities



   
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The core facility of the Soltis Center is the Bill and Wanda Soltis Academic Building (7,500 square feet), which includes a cafeteria and multipurpose room, laundry room, wet and dry labs, and two classrooms. The academic building also houses a computer lab, a meeting/video conference room, three offices, a first aid station, and restrooms. Directly behind the academic building are 8 bungalows (each one is 600 square feet plus a covered deck) to house scientists, students, and other guests. The Soltis Center has a maximum capacity of 56 people. Wireless internet is available throughout the academic building and bungalows. The entire facility has been designed to be ADA compliant. In addition to the physical facilities, an extensive trail system has been developed to facilitate access to the forest. You can access a map of the trails by clicking on this link. The following link connects to the online map of the region: https://www.google.com/maps/place/TexasA&MSoltisCenter
 
There is a 10-m meteorological tower that measures air temperature and relative humidity at the 2- and 10-m heights, wind speed and direction at 10 m, solar radiation at 10 m, and barometric pressure. This station also has two tipping bucket rain gauges and two soil moisture/temperature sensors deployed at 10 cm and 30 cm. The station was installed in June 2010 and, since that time, has been continuously recording data at 5-minute intervals. In addition, five autonomous weather stations are installed at various locations in the forest to quantify the spatial and temporal variation of meteorological and hydrological gradients. Each station is equipped with an Onset USB Weather Station Data Logger, and sensors for wind speed and direction, precipitation, temperature, relative humidity, leaf wetness, soil moisture, and specially constructed fog collectors. Each station is powered by a 6-watt solar panel.
 
As a part of the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), project supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation additional equipment and scientific experients are in progress. Please see the REU Project web page using the following link:
http://costaricareu.tamu.edu/. The project, "Eco-Hydrology of a Tropical Montane Cloud Florest", includes solar arrays, mobile weather stations, sapflow arrays, stream gauges, piezometers, a weir, and significant baseline data collection (e.g., tethered-balloon sonde profiles, geological surveys, throughfall observations). The sap flow and throughfall monitoring sites include two data logging and multiplexing systems (CR1000 and AM16/32, Campbell Scientific) and four solar panels capable of producing 300W (BP Solar) with a large power storage capacity (eight marine-type 12V batteries). Currently, 32 sap flow sensors continuously monitoring tree transpiration in 15 trees of a variety of species. An array of six tipping bucket rain gauges measure throughfall. The vertical soil moisture profile is measured using five capacitance-type probes and five gypsum blocks to measure soil water potential. A 40-meter walk-up tower that allows scientists and students to safely work within and above the forest canopy, was installed in 2012. Sensors that will be installed on the tower in 2014 include 3 eddy covariance systems, temperature and humidity sensors, net radiometers, leaf wetness sensors at multiple heights to provide flux measurements of energy, carbon, and hydrometeorological variables as part of a new DOE research project jointly funded by the Terrestrial Ecosystem Science and the Earth Systems Modeling programs (project information available on the following web page: https://ceprofs.civil.tamu.edu/gmiller/research.html). The weir dam constructed in 2012, monitors hourly discharge from the main watershed at the Soltis Center.
 
The Center provides access to more than 250 acres of primary and secondary growth. Additionally, the Center’s forests are adjacent to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest and the Monteverde Conservation Area. The Zona Protectora Arenal-Monteverde extends to the Center through a forest corridor that descends in elevation from 1,800 meters at Monteverde to 450 meters above sea level at the Center.