Across Australian landscapes, the exchanges of water vapour and carbon dioxide are critical processes which determine agricultural productivity and maintain native ecosystems. A major national project is bringing together researchers and government agencies to establish long term monitoring across Australian ecosystems at an unprecedented scale of coverage. This will provide invaluable data sets for research into landscape processes and trends.
The Australian Flux Network Project builds on the existing OZFLUX network to incorporate a network of flux sites which apply nationally-consistent methodologies and feed data back to a national database. Ten priority locations provide minimum coverage of the major ecosystems in Australia. The priority sites will establish the network, instrument and operational protocols for the core set of agreed measurements.
The South Australian site is being coordinated by Prof Wayne Meyer and Prof David Chittleborough of the Landscape Futures Program. The site in the mallee semi-arid ecosystem is investigating fluxes of water vapour and carbon dioxide between the atmosphere, upper soil layers and groundwater in the mallee communities north of the River Murray near Chowilla.
The project is part of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN), which is a set of dedicated observation sites to provide standardised systematic data for ecosystem research and natural resource management in Australia. The national network is designed to provide stratified representative data to cover all ecosystem types in a consistent time-series which will be accessible to researchers.
Data on trends in ecosystem condition will be critical to climate change adaptation and ongoing natural resource management. Data will be used for assessing ecosystem condition, structure and function, and monitoring the state of land surfaces, cycling of carbon, and water and energy flow.