#05 2023

Gaining new perspectives at the annual conference of the international flux community

By Kathleen Smart, Landscape Scientist: Biogeochemistry, EFTEON Northern Drakensberg

Each year the scientists and researchers associated with flux networks meet under the banner of FLUXNET. This year the meeting was hosted by Mendel University in Brno, the second most populated city in the Czech Republic. 

The meeting was sponsored by the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS), as well as instrumentation corporates including EMS Brno, LICOR, MIRO, AERIS technologies and EOSENSE.

Delegates of the FLUXNET 2023 meeting in Mendel University, Brno, Czech Republic (Photo: https://fluxnet.org)

My main focus on this trip was to update the global flux communities about the developments in SAEON–EFTEON. This meeting provided an opportunity to meet with colleagues and establish future collaborations. Importantly, it was a useful means of establishing the flux tower spread across Africa, information which is hard to access otherwise.

The meeting also facilitates site visits, and this year the conference delegates visited the Lanžhot Flux site, a study site in a deciduous broadleaf forest on a flood plain between Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia (map below).

The yellow pin indicates the Lanžhot Flux site

Automatic soil respiration chamber made by EMS Brno (Photo: Kathleen Smart)

Lanžhot is run by CzechGlobe under the leadership of Natalia Kowalska. This is a heavily instrumented site which qualified as a ICOS Level 1 Ecosystem Station.

It was impressive to see such a well-organised and productive site. The site includes sub-sites of soil respiration chambers, dendrometers and sap flow meters, and tipping buckets in arrays to assess rainfall interception.

Natalia Kowalska of CzechGlobe (left) and Kathleen Smart (SAEON–EFTEON) in the station house at Lanžhot beneath the 50 m eddy covariance tower

This hugely interesting and engaging meeting made it clear that South Africa (via SAEON–EFTEON research infrastructure) has a role to play as a third-world country, as a representative of the Southern hemisphere, and as an organiser for efforts across the African continent.

Arrays monitoring rainfall (left) and light interception (right) by the forest canopy (Photos: Kathleen Smart)

More about FLUXNET  

Eddy covariance (EC) flux measurements of carbon, water vapour and energy exchange are being made routinely across a network-of-networks in North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. The global collective is called FLUXNET.

FLUXNET links these regional networks together, collecting their datasets to create processed and harmonised EC data products. All the FLUXNET members contribute data voluntarily, and this product is important for assessment and reporting processes such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessments.

SAEON will be contributing to the next global product which is set for release in 2025.