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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Short communication
06 Nov 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).
Integration of terrestrial observational networks: opportunity for advancing Earth system dynamics modelling
Roland Baatz1, Pamela L. Sullivan2, Li Li3, Samantha 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, Jianwu Tang15, Jérôme Gaillardet16, Isabelle Braud17, Alejandro N. Flores18, Praveen Kumar19, Henry Lin20, Teamrat Ghezzehei21, Henry L. Gholz4, Harry Vereecken1,22, and Kris Van Looy1,22 1Agrosphere, Institute of Bio and Geosciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich, D-52425 Jülich, Germany
2Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science, University of Kansas
3Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University
4Battelle, National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), Boulder, CO USA 80301
5Institute of Alpine and Arctic Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO USA 80301
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 USA 80523-1036
9Scientific Chair Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative,
10Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA
11Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, The Pennsylvania State University
12CZO National Office, US NSF Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) program
13Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Dept. Monitoring and Exploration Technologies, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig
14Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Dept. Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, 06120 Halle, Germany
15Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, MA 02543, USA
16Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), Sorbonne Paris Cité, University Paris Diderot, CNRS, Paris 75231, France
17Irstea, UR HHLY (Hydrology-Hydraulics), Lyon-Villeurbanne, France
18Department of Geosciences, Boise State University, Boise, ID 83725 USA
19Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois
20Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, The Pennsylvania State University
21Life and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Merced, USA
22Scientific Coordination Office International Soil Modelling Consortium ISMC,
Abstract. Advancing our understanding of Earth System Dynamics (ESD) depends on the development of models and other analytical tools that integrate physical, biological and chemical data. This ambition of increased understanding and model development of ESD based on integrated site observations was at the origin of the creation of the networks of Long Term Ecological Research (LTER), Critical Zone Observatories (CZO), and others. We organized a survey to identify pressing gaps in data availability from these networks, in particular for the future development and evaluation of models that represent ESD processes. With the survey results, we look for gaps between data collection and ESD model development, to draw perspectives for the improvement both in data collection and model integration.

From this overview of model applications gathered in the context of LTER- and CZO research, we identified three challenges: 1) Improving integration of observational data in Earth system modelling, 2) developing coupled Earth system models, and 3) identifying complementarity and ways to integrate the existing networks. These challenges lead to perspectives and recommendations for strategic integration of observational networks and links to the ESD modelling community. We propose the further integration of the observational networks, either by 1) making the existing site-determined networks also functional topological networks with organising spread and coverage, and/or 2) thematically and geographically restructuring or co-locating the existing networks, and further formalizing these recommendations among these communities. Such integration will enable cross-site comparison and synthesis studies, which will offer significant insights and extraction of organizing principles, classifications, and general rules of coupling processes and environmental conditions.

Citation: Baatz, R., Sullivan, P. L., Li, L., Weintraub, S., Loescher, H. W., Mirtl, M., Groffman, P. M., Wall, D. H., Young, M., White, T., Wen, H., Zacharias, S., Kühn, I., Tang, J., Gaillardet, J., Braud, I., Flores, A. N., Kumar, P., Lin, H., Ghezzehei, T., Gholz, H. L., Vereecken, H., and Van Looy, K.: Integration of terrestrial observational networks: opportunity for advancing Earth system dynamics modelling, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Roland Baatz et al.
Roland Baatz et al.
Roland Baatz et al.


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