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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

Global change has triggered several transformations, such as alterations in climate, land productivity, water resources, and atmospheric chemistry, with far reaching impacts on ecosystem functions and services. Finding solutions to climate and land cover change-driven impacts on our terrestrial environment is one of the most important scientific challenges of the 21st century, with far reaching interlinkages to the socio-economy. The setup of the TERENO Pre-Alpine Observatory in the Ammer (709 km²) and Rott catchments (56 km²) was motivated by the fact that mountain areas, such as the pre-alpine region in southern Germany, have been exposed to more intense warming compared with the global average trend and to higher frequencies of extreme hydrological events, such as droughts and intense rainfall. With dairy farming as the dominant land use in the valleys of this region, the TERENO Pre-alpine observatory includes the grassland sites Graswang, Rottenbuch, and Fendt at elevations of 864, 769, and 595 m asl, respectively as well as the associated forest site Lackenberg and peatland site Schechenfilz.

Scientific research questions in the TERENO Pre-Alpine Observatory focus on improved process understanding and closing of combined energy, water, C, and N cycles at site to regional scales. The main long-term objectives of the TERENO Pre-Alpine Observatory include the characterization and quantification of climate change and land cover–management effects on terrestrial hydrology and biogeochemical processes at site and regional scales by joint measuring and modeling approaches.

The key hydrological objectives comprise (i) improved quantification of the spatiotemporal variability of precipitation in complex terrain, (ii) investigation of soil moisture response to precipitation, and (iii) quantification of the variability, interaction, and closure of the regional interlinked water and energy cycles.
Contact: Harald.Kunstmann∂kit.edu; Benjamin.Fersch∂kit.edu; Christian.Chwala∂kit.edu

The key micrometeorological objectives are related to the biosphere–atmosphere exchange of heat, water, and CO2, with particular focus on (i) improving our understanding of atmospheric exchange processes in complex terrain, (ii) investigation of the energy balance closure problem, and (iii) the response of net ecosystem exchange to transient climatic events.
Contact: Hape.Schmid∂kit.edu; Matthias.Mauder∂kit.edu
The key biogeochemical objectives include characterization and quantification of ecosystem C and N storage, turnover, and associated biosphere–atmosphere–hydrosphere matter exchange with a particular focus on (i) GHG emissions (CO2, CH4, and N2O), (ii) nutrient export by seepage water, and (iii) vegetation and microbial productivity and diversity affecting ecosystem C and N transformations and losses.
Contact: Ralf.Kiese∂kit.edu; Rainer.Gasche∂kit.edu; Benjamin.Wolf∂kit.edu


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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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