By Sophie Baker, Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network
A demonstration flux tower (or eddy-flux covariance) for measuring the exchange of heat, water and carbon dioxide between the grassland and the atmosphere. It also measures a range of meteorological variables such as rainfall, air temperature and humidity.
The national Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) project is poised to streamline and standardise the collection of data for environmental monitoring and research in Australia.
The lack of standardised data has been a common problem for environmental management in Australia, especially when data are collected from a number of different states and territories.
A nationally-consistent approach to collecting and managing time-series datasets is required to meet the needs of research and natural resources management in Australia.
The Australian Government, in recognising the need for nationally-consistent data collection, allocated $55 million in funding to establish TERN and develop a collaborative, national infrastructure to enhance ecosystem research and environmental management. The new Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) was officially launched in April 2010 in Brisbane.
The purpose of TERN is to establish the necessary cooperative and data frameworks for a national, collaborative approach to ecosystem infrastructure and research.
TERN is a collaboration of 12 Australian universities, CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and Geoscience Australia.
Mr Andrew Campbell, TERN Board Chair, is excited about streamlining data collection and monitoring; doing to environmental research and management what the standard gauge did for railway travel in Australia.
"Australia will be at the forefront of environmental monitoring and making rational decisions on environmental management based on a sound understanding of the processes of terrestrial environmental change", he said.
TERN’s vision is for a 'community infrastructure' for ecosystem monitoring and data collection and access – a series of facilities across Australia focused on active collaboration by people obtaining and sharing good-quality, comparable, standardised data.
“Such collaboration is a very different way of doing science in the terrestrial ecosystem field,” said Andrew Campbell. “It will enable scientists to do great science that wasn’t conceivable before”.