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Volume 9, issue 2 | Copyright
Earth Syst. Dynam., 9, 593-609, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Short communication 23 May 2018

Short communication | 23 May 2018

Steering operational synergies in terrestrial observation networks: opportunity for advancing Earth system dynamics modelling

Roland Baatz1,24, Pamela L. Sullivan2, Li Li3, Samantha R. Weintraub4, Henry W. Loescher4,5, Michael Mirtl6, Peter M. Groffman7, Diana H. Wall8,9, Michael Young10,19, Tim White11,12, Hang Wen3, Steffen Zacharias13, Ingolf Kühn14,15, Jianwu Tang16, Jérôme Gaillardet17, Isabelle Braud18, Alejandro N. Flores19, Praveen Kumar20, Henry Lin21, Teamrat Ghezzehei22, Julia Jones23, Henry L. Gholz4, Harry Vereecken1,24, and Kris Van Looy1,24 Roland Baatz et al.
  • 1Agrosphere, Institute of Bio and Geosciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich, 52425 Jülich, Germany
  • 2Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA
  • 3Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
  • 4Battelle, National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), Boulder, CO 80301, USA
  • 5Institute of Alpine and Arctic Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80301, USA
  • 6Environment Agency Austria – EAA, Dept. Ecosystem Research, Spittelauer Lände 5, 1090 Vienna, Austria
  • 7City University of New York Advanced Science Research Center at the Graduate Center, New York, NY 10031, USA
  • 8Department of Biology and School of Global Environmental Sustainability, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1036, USA
  • 9Scientific Chair Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative, Fort Collins, CO, USA
  • 10Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA
  • 11Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA, USA
  • 12CZO National Office, US NSF Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) program, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 13Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Dept. Monitoring and Exploration Technologies, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
  • 14Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Dept. Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, 06120 Halle, Germany
  • 15German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Deutscher Platz 5e, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
  • 16Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
  • 17Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), Sorbonne Paris Cité, University Paris Diderot, CNRS, 75231 Paris, France
  • 18Irstea, UR RiverLy, Lyon-Villeurbanne Center, 69625 Villeurbanne, France
  • 19 Department of Geosciences, Boise State University, Boise, ID 83725, USA
  • 20Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, USA
  • 21Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA, USA
  • 22Life and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Merced, USA
  • 23College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA
  • 24Scientific Coordination Office International Soil Modelling Consortium ISMC, Jülich, Germany

Abstract. Advancing our understanding of Earth system dynamics (ESD) depends on the development of models and other analytical tools that apply physical, biological, and chemical data. This ambition to increase understanding and develop models of ESD based on site observations was the stimulus for creating the networks of Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER), Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs), and others. We organized a survey, the results of which identified pressing gaps in data availability from these networks, in particular for the future development and evaluation of models that represent ESD processes, and provide insights for improvement in both data collection and model integration.

From this survey overview of data applications in the context of LTER and CZO research, we identified three challenges: (1) widen application of terrestrial observation network data in Earth system modelling, (2) develop integrated Earth system models that incorporate process representation and data of multiple disciplines, and (3) identify complementarity in measured variables and spatial extent, and promoting synergies in the existing observational networks. These challenges lead to perspectives and recommendations for an improved dialogue between the observation networks and the ESD modelling community, including co-location of sites in the existing networks and further formalizing these recommendations among these communities. Developing these synergies will enable cross-site and cross-network comparison and synthesis studies, which will help produce insights around organizing principles, classifications, and general rules of coupling processes with environmental conditions.

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Short summary
Focusing on the usage of integrated models and in situ Earth observatory networks, three challenges are identified to advance understanding of ESD, in particular to strengthen links between biotic and abiotic, and above- and below-ground processes. We propose developing a model platform for interdisciplinary usage, to formalize current network infrastructure based on complementarities and operational synergies, and to extend the reanalysis concept to the ecosystem and critical zone.
Focusing on the usage of integrated models and in situ Earth observatory networks, three...