Antwerp FATI

Infrared Heating Systems Antwerp


Enclosed Ecosystem Platform

Parent institution: University of Antwerp
Active since 2019
Active through all year

Fields of study

  • Isotopic chemistry
  • Climatology, Climate Change
  • Environmental sciences, Pollution
  • Geology, Sedimentology
  • Geocryology, Geomorphology
  • Soil science
  • Mapping, GIS
  • Marine biology
  • Microbiology
  • Hydrology
  • Terrestrial biology, Ecology

Contact Information

No contact information at the moment.

Together with J. Harte (1995) and B. Kimball (2005), the PLECO group has played a pioneering role in developing infrared (IR) heating systems to simulate climate warming in free-air conditions in the field. Simulating future climates in open air rather than in enclosures avoids artifacts as demonstrated by Ainsworth et al. (2008) for elevated CO2. Over the years, we have continuously improved the 'FATI' (Free-Air Temperature Increase) technique (Nijs et al. 1996, 1997, 2000; De Boeck & Nijs 2011), which now allows us to warm surfaces of 8 m² per plot by more than 6 °C in a manner that incorporates natural feedbacks of the plant community to the atmosphere. By combining infrared heaters with rain-out shelters, drought events can be imposed as well, which enables us to test heat waves and droughts both as single factors and in combination. The planned facility (12 plots, i.e. nearly 100 m² in total) and our know-how makes us well-positioned to address many questions related to the current important topic regarding extreme event research.

The Location

Country: Belgium

Latitude: 51.1614

Longitude: 4.4081

Nearest town: Wilrijk

Distance from neaerst town: 2 km

Relevant Research Questions

Impacts of climate extremes (drought, heat, heavy precipitation) on short statured vegetation (grassland, young trees, crops, etc.): how do timing, intensity, frequency and the regime of extremes, combined with community characteristics (e.g. biodiversity) affect ecosystem functioning?


  • combination of heating and drought possible
  • up-to-date facility and plenty of technical and scientific know-how
  • rain-out shelters are customized retractable shelters, offering improved realism and increased flexibility of use
  • automated measurements of soil water content and high-resolution canopy temperature
  • year-round operation possible
  • flexibility regarding how plots are used:
    • many small sub-plots or entire plots
    • different types of communities possible (from seed, monoliths of existing vegetation, individual young trees)


The set-up is operational. A proposal for longer term financing (including personnel) is currently being evaluated, along with funding for other AnaEE Flanders partners.

Experimental Capabilities

Experimental Facilities

Experiments duration: Weeks, Months, Years;

Experimental Aerea

Total area: 85 m²

Available area: 85 m²

Experimental Unit Size

unit size: 7 m²

approximately 75 cm height underneath the automated rainout shelters


Replicates number: 12

Temporary storage

  • Drying oven
  • Freeze drier
  • Freezer
  • Liquid N
  • Refrigerator
  • Other

Available Instruments

  • LI-6400 (leaf gas exchange)
  • EGM-4 (CO2 exchange via cuvette)
  • TH9260 Infrared camera (standard lens)
  • SC-1 porometer (leaf scale)
  • Plant Efficiency Analyser (leaf fluorescence)

Electricity available on site.

Distance from Laboratory facilities


Years measured: 29


Mean Temperature: 10.6 °C

February Mean Temperature: 3.7 °C

July Mean Temperature: 18.5 °C


Mean Annual Speed: 3.5 m/s

Max. Annual Speed: m/s

Dominant Direction: South-West


Precipitation type: Rain, Snow;

Total annual precipitation: 850 mm

Mean snow cover duration: days

State Variables

Continuously Measured

  • Air humidity
  • Air temperature
  • Atmospheric pressure
  • Canopy temperature
  • Incident PAR
  • Incident shortwave radiation
  • Soil temperature
  • Soil water content

Spot Measured

  • Fluorescence
  • Phenology
  • Species richness

Environmental Pressures

Variable Ecosystem Status
Warming Agrosystem Planned
Precip Agrosystem Planned
Hydro Agrosystem Planned
Fire Agrosystem Planned
Soileutroph Agrosystem Planned
Fire, the second one Agrosystem Planned
Soilerosion Agrosystem Planned
Desert Agrosystem Planned
Management - Nutrients (levels or nutrient type) Agrosystem Planned
Management - conventional vs. organic or other eco-friendly practice Agrosystem Planned
Management - rotation practice Agrosystem Planned
Management - species and/or ecotype combinations Agrosystem Planned
Management - traditional (or native) vs. new (or non-native) species Agrosystem Planned
Management - other Agrosystem Planned
Pests Agrosystem Planned
Biodiversity Agrosystem Planned
Warming Grassland Planned
Precip Grassland Planned
Hydro Grassland Planned
Fire Grassland Planned
Soileutroph Grassland Planned
Fire, the second one Grassland Planned
Soilerosion Grassland Planned
Desert Grassland Planned
Management - Nutrients (levels or nutrient type) Grassland Planned
Management - conventional vs. organic or other eco-friendly practice Grassland Planned
Management - rotation practice Grassland Planned
Management - species and/or ecotype combinations Grassland Planned
Management - traditional (or native) vs. new (or non-native) species Grassland Planned
Management - other Grassland Planned
Pests Grassland Planned
Biodiversity Grassland Planned
Warming Shrubland Planned
Precip Shrubland Planned
Hydro Shrubland Planned
Fire Shrubland Planned
Soileutroph Shrubland Planned
Fire, the second one Shrubland Planned
Soilerosion Shrubland Planned
Desert Shrubland Planned
Pests Shrubland Planned
Biodiversity Shrubland Planned

On site Staff and Accomodation

Peak season staff

Up to 3 people

Off season staff

Up to 3 people

Visiting personnel

No visitors allowed.

No beds on site

Showers on site

Showers on site

Laundry on site

Laundry on site