Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions

Terrestrial Ecosystem Science

This program’s focus is to understand and explain mechanisms and processes controlling primary production, carbon cycling, and soil biogeochemistry; the impacts of disturbance on terrestrial ecosystems; and ecosystem feedbacks to climate in vulnerable environments. In addition, it seeks to establish and maintain environmental field observatories.

Highlights

Project

AmeriFlux Management Project

The largest flows of carbon between land and atmosphere come from terrestrial ecosystem photosynthesis and respiration, with potentially profound impacts on atmosphere and climate. The AmeriFlux Network, established in 1996, has more than 120 long-term flux sites, independently operated and funded, throughout the Western Hemisphere. The sites are diverse, ranging from the Amazonian rainforests to the North Slope of Alaska, and some span gradients in elevation or rainfall. Site researchers observe ecosystem level exchanges of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, water, and energy, to assess terrestrial ecosystems’ responses and feedbacks to the environment.

rain forrest - NGEE Tropics
Project

Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment-Tropics

Tropical forests cycle more CO2 and water than any other biome, and play critical roles in determining Earth’s energy balance. Intact tropical forests, likely Earth’s largest carbon sink, are susceptible to a warming climate. The 10-year vision for NGEE Tropics is to achieve dramatically reduced uncertainty in ESM projections, and increased scientific understanding of how tropical forest ecosystems will respond to climate and atmospheric change.

Program Overview

An accurate understanding of soil processes is critical for predicting climate-ecosystem feedbacks, attributing global CO2 sinks between land and ocean, and optimizing mitigation via biofuels and sequestration. Long-standing gaps in process-level understanding make the role of soils in global change highly uncertain. In our current projects (TES SFA, NGEE Arctic, and NGEE Tropics), we address these gaps by conducting basic experimental, observational, and numerical research with a focus on terrestrial biogeochemistry and climate feedbacks. Success will provide us with accurate process-level understanding of the controls of soil carbon turnover and stocks, and useful predictions of soil carbon response to climate change and land-use change.

The Terrestrial Ecosystems Science Program is one of three programs within the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area, Climate & Carbon Sciences Program Area. This program’s focus is to understand and explain mechanisms and processes controlling primary production, carbon cycling, and soil biogeochemistry; the impacts of disturbance on terrestrial ecosystems; and ecosystem feedbacks to climate in vulnerable environments. In addition, it seeks to establish and maintain environmental field observatories.

Featured Projects

Project

AmeriFlux Management Project

The largest flows of carbon between land and atmosphere come from terrestrial ecosystem photosynthesis and respiration, with potentially profound impacts on atmosphere and climate. The AmeriFlux Network, established in 1996, has more than 120 long-term flux sites, independently operated and funded, throughout the Western Hemisphere. The sites are diverse, ranging from the Amazonian rainforests to the North Slope of Alaska, and some span gradients in elevation or rainfall. Site researchers observe ecosystem level exchanges of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, water, and energy, to assess terrestrial ecosystems’ responses and feedbacks to the environment.

rain forrest - NGEE Tropics
Project

Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment-Tropics

Tropical forests cycle more CO2 and water than any other biome, and play critical roles in determining Earth’s energy balance. Intact tropical forests, likely Earth’s largest carbon sink, are susceptible to a warming climate. The 10-year vision for NGEE Tropics is to achieve dramatically reduced uncertainty in ESM projections, and increased scientific understanding of how tropical forest ecosystems will respond to climate and atmospheric change.

Primary Sponsors