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Summer Research Project 2021

  • Title: Land Use and Carbon Flux Forecasting Sub-project 1: Land Use History of NEON Sites
  • Group Project Leader: Sydne Record
  • Mentors: Michael Dietze; Alexis Helgeson; Sparkle Malone; J. William Munger; Sydne Record; Timothy Whitby
  • Collaborators: Paige Kouba; Andrew Latimer
  • Project Description:

    This is part of the group project, 'Land Use and Carbon Flux Forecasting,' whose over-arching intellectual theme is:

    The exchange of water and carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and the land is akin to earth’s terrestrial ecosystems breathing rate and lung capacity. An important measure of ecosystem function is the exchange of mass and energy, which can be determined with the eddy-covariance method. This method observes the flux of carbon and water between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere at half-hourly timesteps. This information allows us to understand photosynthesis, respiration, and transpiration, their sensitivities to ongoing climate and land use change, and greenhouse gas budgets for carbon accounting and natural climate solutions. Forecasts of carbon uptake and release, water use, and soil moisture can provide insights into future production of food, fiber, timber and carbon credits along with the influence water stress has on these processes. Furthermore, iterative, near-term forecasts of these fluxes can spur scientific insights and provide information more relevant to sustainability decision-making (Dietze et al. 2017). This project will explore how the incorporation of land use data influence the predictive ability of near-term forecasts of carbon uptake and water release at several sites that are part of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON; Jones et al. In press). The students involved in this project will gain a familiarity with near-term ecological forecasting and learn or expand upon skills in environmental data science (i.e., programming in R, working with spatial data layers using geographic information software [GIS]). We seek six students to work on three sub-projects to gain exposure to different methodologies. We will have weekly team meetings using video conferencing to keep all project members up to date on progress and to expose students to the nature of long-distance collaborative work across a distributed scientific network. Students are encouraged to ask and pursue independent research questions of their own (which could be the basis for a senior thesis or other undergraduate research paper).

    Sub-project One – Land Use History of NEON Sites (2 students; Mentor: Sydne Record)
    The network of NEON sites recently began data collection with a key strength of implementing standardized data collection across sites to enable detection of cross-continental ecological patterns in a systematic fashion. Although a great deal of data is collected at NEON sites, the observatory does not provide detailed information on current or past land-use of sites. This presents a knowledge gap given that long-term studies demonstrate how land use legacies and disturbance history shape modern-day landscape patterns and ecological communities (Foster et al. 2003). The students selected for this project will reconstruct land-use histories of NEON sites and work with students within this larger group project to incorporate land use into near-term ecological forecasts of carbon and water fluxes.

    The students working on this project must:
    1. Be willing to spend many hours on the computer analyzing data;
    2. Be willing to coordinate meetings with and call by phone or video conferencing sub-project team members (and for sub-project 1 willingness to reach out to contacts for reconstructing site histories);
    3. Have, or be willing to develop, a basic understanding of ArcGIS (subproject 1), and R for graphical and statistical analysis;
    4. Be willing to coordinate and contribute to weekly video conferencing meetings with the collaborative team.

  • Readings:

    Dietze, M.C., Fox, A., Beck-Johnson, L.M., Betancourt, J.L., Hooten, M.B., Jarnevich, C.S., Keitt, T.H., Kenney, M.A., Laney, C.M., Larsen, L.G. and Loescher, H.W., 2018. Iterative near-term ecological forecasting: Needs, opportunities, and challenges. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(7), pp.1424-1432.

    Fer I, AK Gardella, AN Shiklomanov, SP Serbin, MG De Kauwe, A Raiho, MR Johnston, A Desai, T Viskari, T Quaife, DS LeBauer, EM Cowdery, R Kooper, JB Fisher, B Poulter, MJ Duveneck, FM Hoffman, W Parton, J Mantooth, EE Campbell, KD Haynes, K Schaefer, KR Wilcox, MC Dietze, Beyond Modeling: A Roadmap to Community Cyberinfrastructure for Ecological Data-Model Integration. Global Change Biology doi:10.1111/gcb.15409

    Foster, D.R., Swanson, F., Aber, J., Burke, I., Brokaw, N., Tilman, D., and Knapp, A. 2003. The importance of land-use legacies to ecology and conservation. Bioscience, 53(1):77-88.

    Jones, J.A., P.M. Groffman , J. Blair, F.W. Davis , H. Dugan, E.E. Euskirchen, S.D. Frey, T.K. Harms, E. Hinckley, M. Kosmala, S. Loberg, S. Malone, K. Novick, S. Record, A.V. Rocha, B.L. Ruddell, E.H. Stanley, C. Sturtevant, A. Thorpe, T. White, W.R. Wieder, L. Zhai, and K. Zhu. In press. Synergies among environmental science research and monitoring networks: 2 A research agenda. Earth Futures.

    Malone, S. L., Staudhammer, C. L., Oberbauer, S. F., & Olivas, P. (2014). El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) enhances CO2 exchange rates in freshwater marsh ecosystems in the Florida Everglades. PloS One.

    Urbanski, S., C. Barford, S. Wofsy, C. Kucharik, E. Pyle, J. Budney, K. McKain, D. Fitzjarrald, M. Czikowsky, and J. W. Munger. 2007. Factors controlling CO2 exchange on timescales from hourly to decadal at Harvard Forest. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 112:1–25.

  • Research Category: Historical and Retrospective Studies, Group Projects, Forest-Atmosphere Exchange, Ecological Informatics and Modelling