Instrumentation

Scientific investigators:

Prof. Dr. Markus Fischer

Prof. Dr. Thomas Nauss

 

 

Description of objectivesMeteorological and soil parameters are primary influencing factors of the organismic diversity and functionality of ecosystem processes. In order to conduct a systematic monitoring of the related environmental parameters on an extended spatial scale, more then 300 environmental monitoring units were deployed in the research areas Schorfheide-Chorin, Hainich-Dün and Schwäbische Alb. The organisation and planning of these activities were conducted under leadership of the University of Potsdam.

Monitoring system on a grassland plot in the Hainich exploratory (source: M. Gross)

At present, two different versions of environmental monitoring units are deployed:
Type A is stationed on all forest and greenland experimental plots (EP’s). Apart from common meteorological parameters such as air and surface temperature and relative humidity, measurements within the ground are conducted. Five sensors within the soil layer are continually recording soil temperature and soil humidity.
Type B is applied on all intensive research plots (VIP’s) and contains additional sensory equipment to monitor the soil moisture.
Both type series are provided by Meier-NT® from Zwönitz, Germany. The core component is a datalogger unit (ADL-MX) that is placed in a control box together with the energy supply system. A small pylon serves as a mounting point for these parts as well as for the meteorological sensors. The construction and technology of the measurement system was realized in cooperation with the manufacturing company to meet the scientific requirements of all involved research institutions.

Monitoring site in a pine forest stand (drawing: A. Hemp)

All measurement systems are designed in a modular manner to enable the technical upgrade to measure additional environmental variables at a later point in time. Furthermore, it is possible to integrate communication technology into the system to enable the automated transfer of measurement data. Solar cells can be used to provide the field stations with the required operational energy. The installation and maintenance of all measurement units is conducted by specially trained field technicians.

Monitoring system on a forest plot in the Schwaebische Alb (photo: M. Fellendorf)

The previously described measurement systems will record up to 25.000 individual measurements in each research area on a daily basis. The data will be managed within a centralized database system (BExIS) and can be retrieved from all participating research institutions for various scientific purposes. By means of centralized data management, multivariate statistic data analysis and modelling on different temporal and spatial levels is made possible.
The automated measurement of environmental data through the application of semi-autonomous methods reduces the impact and possible interference on the investigated ecosystems to a minimal level. Compared with other methods of scientific investigation that require a higher level of staff deployment, this approach significantly reduces the ecological impact on the environment.

We intend to cooperate with other operators of meteorological monitoring stations in order to allow for regional climate modelling in all three research areas.

In 2009, the upgrade and specialization of selected measurement system is planned to comply with the enhanced scientific demands from the participating research institutions. A network of manual rain gauge systems will be used on the greenland plots to complement the automated measurements from the environmental monitoring systems. Additionally, we plan to build six measurement towers on selected forest stands to collect meteorological data above the canopy layer.

Measurements of soil temperature in the Schorfheide exploratory (Fig. G. Korte)