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TERENO - TERrestrial ENvironmental Observatoria

TERENO - TERrestrial ENvironmental Observatoria

Ralf Kiese
Harald Kunstmann
Matthias Mauder
Hans Peter Schmid

funding:Helmholtz Association (HGF)

TERENO (TERestrial ENvironmental Observatories)

TERENO observatory 'preAlpine'
HGF-Initiative TERENO

The Terrestrial Environmental Observatories in Germany form a network of at total 4 observatories investigating the ecological and climatic impacts of global environmental change on terrestrial systems. The TERENO-preAlpine observatory is located in the Bavarian foothills of the Alps (i.e., the Bavarian Prealps). At its core is an extensively instrumented site cluster in the catchments of the Ammer (709 km2) and Rott (55 km2) Rivers. With dairy farming as the dominant land use in the valleys of this region, the Prealpine observatory includes the grassland sites Graswang, Rottenbuch, and Fendt at elevations of 864, 769, and 595 m MSL, respectively.

The climate change sensitivity of mountain regions, such as the TERENO-preAlpine observatory, is seen to be amplified compared to global averages, with expected strong consequences in the regional thermal and precipitation regimes, C and N dynamics, and thus nutrient cycling and ecosystem functioning . To study the impact of climate change on ecosystem functioning and services, and regional circulation and precipitation patterns, the continuously operated backbone infrastructure of the TERENO-preAlpine observatory includes ecosystem–atmosphere flux stations along an elevation gradient, micrometeorology and boundary layer sounding systems, and a hydrometeorological mesoscale network with precipitation-gauge transects and a rain radar.

Long term observations are an indispensable pre-requisite to improve our knowledge of the complex biosphere-hydrosphere-atmosphere (BHA) interactions and to detect and analyze the impact of Global Change parameters on these interactions as well as to develop, improve and validate BHA model systems.
For long term observations on the effects of Global Change on complex terrestrial ecosystems we establish the "Bavarian preAlpine” observatory consisting of several grassland sites along an elevational gradient in the Ammer catchment 'Ammer catchment' (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), the long term agricultural monitoring site Scheyern (Helmholtz-Zentrum München) and the long term forest monitoring site 'Höglwald' (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) and the long term peatland monitoring forest site Schechenfilz (link).

Micromet data from the TERENO Ammer catchment

Main long term objectives of the preAlpine-observatory are the characterization and quantification of climate change effects on:

biogeochemical processes:

  • changes of the coupled C-/N-cycles and C-/N-storage
  • biosphere-atmosphere exchange (trace gases, energy flux, albedo)
  • vegetation and microbial biodiversity and temporal dynamics of matter-turnover and -exchange coupled to changes in biodiversity

terrestrial hydrology:

  • alpine water balances and precipitation variability
  • hydrometeorological extreme events
  • water quality and retention capacity

Installed backbone infrastructure:

Integration of the TERENO Longterm Observatory 'preAlpine' in current projects and networks

In general, TERENO observatories are an open platform and intend to establish new and extend existing national and international scientific cooperations!

Coordination: Ralf Kiese, Matthias Mauder, Benjamin Fersch

Additional contacts: Harald Kunstmann, Klaus Butterbach-Bahl, Hans Peter Schmid


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Climate Feedback Station 'Ammer Catchment'

TERENO Ammer Catchment

A lysimeter network will be realized in which soil monoliths with grassland vegetation are transplanted along the existing natural gradient in temperature and precipitation within the alpine Ammer catchment.


The following parameters will be determined and quantified:

  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) exchange
  • NO3- export
  • Water and Energy balance
  • Soil NO3-/NH4+ concentrations
  • Soil microbial biomass and soil microbial biodiversity
  • Vegetation (growth rate and biodiversity)


The Climate Feedback Station 'Ammer Catchment' will be equipped with

  • Climate station
  • Micro rain radar (MRR2)
  • Eddy covariance system for quantification of energy balance and turbulent fluxes of CO2 and H2O
  • 36 lysimeters (volume c. 2 m3 each)
  • Greenhouse chamber system for determination of surface fluxes of N2O, CH4, CO2, and NOX at lysimeters
  • Photometer for quantification of nitrate export at two existing water gauges


Contact: Ralf Kiese, Rainer Gasche, Matthias Mauder, Benjamin Fersch


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Long term forest monitoring site 'Höglwald'

Installation of Soil Gas Sampling System
Installation of Soil Gas Sampling System
Soil Gas Sampling System
Soil Gas Sampling System

The Long-Term Monitoring Station at the Höglwald forest site was established in 1987 and has been further extended for continuous fully automated C and N trace gas flux measurements including complemental determination of underlying soil chemical/physical as well as soil microbial parameter and processes. The Höglwald site is characterized by high atmospheric N-deposition, a situation what is likely to effect forest ecosystems in future under global change scenario. On site investigations comprise static and dynamic automated chamber measurements of N2O, CH4, CO2 and NO, NO2 and O3 fluxes as well as eddy-covariance tower measurements. During the past 3 decades, scientific activity at the Höglwald forest site focused on different drivers affecting forest ecosystem functions e.g. acidic rain, tree species composition and forest management practices. Overall, the C and N trace gas exchange dataset of the Höglwald is worldwide the most comprehensive, complete and long-lasting dataset on trace gas exchange and environmental controls of a forest ecosystem. Selected Publications: Medinets et al., Luo et al., Xing et al., Butterbach-Bahl et al., Gasche and Papen

Contacts: Rainer Gasche, Ralf Kiese, Klaus Butterbach-Bahl


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