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Carbon and Water

Understanding the interacton between ecosystems and climate including the exchange of gases, & response to extreme events.

Ecosystem scientists have always been interested in understanding the carbon cycle – how and why carbon moves through the landscape, its sources and sinks. This includes carbon dioxide exchanges between the atmosphere and vegetation, soil, and aquatic systems, as well as uptake and loss of carbon through vegetation growth and loss. Recently there has been increasing general interest in how human activities may be affecting Australia’s natural carbon cycles.

TERN’s nationally networked infrastructure, multidisciplinary capabilities and end-user-focused products are delivering better ways of measuring and estimating Australia’s current and future environmental carbon stocks and flows. This helps increase certainty for our partners and stakeholders working to understand and manage carbon-related issues in state and federal government agencies, industry, NGOs and the ecosystem science community.

Water is always a topic of interest to Australians, living and working as we do on the driest inhabited continent on Earth. We are regularly faced with numerous challenges caused by having too little or too much water. So it’s not surprising that TERN infrastructure is being used by stakeholders all over the country to increase understanding of our water resources.  TERN is working to more effectively monitor and report on catchment management, investigate the functioning of nearly waterless ecosystems and groundwater systems, and generate comprehensive visualisations of destructive floods. Recently TERN’s reach has even extended to the frozen waters of Antarctica.

On this page you will find regularly updated links describing TERN’s multidisciplinary, networked approach to reducing uncertainty about Australia’s environmental carbon stocks and flows.  You will find links describing the efforts of TERN and our many partners to increase and share our understanding of Australia’s water resources and to plan for the sustainable management of these precious resources.




Dry, drier… Repeat environmental surveys deliver detailed drought data

October 2018

More than 100 TERN ecosystem monitoring plots have now been sampled multiple times. The open data from these plots allow researchers to better understand how plants are impacted by drought and are a powerful resource for understanding environmental change and climate adaptation.




Drought’s impact on the environment

October 2018

Researchers are using TERN infrastructure in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland to take part in a landmark global experiment that investigates ecosystem response to drought. The experiment’s findings will help to predict and mitigate the impacts of drought in Australia and around the world.




Sensitive sensors survive savanna scorching

September 2018

When collecting data on fire it’s to be expected that things are going to get a bit hot sometimes. The annual clash between sensitive science infrastructure and seasonal bushfires unfolded yet again this year at TERN’s tropical savanna ecosystem observing site.  Read on to find out how the site burnt but added to TERN’s long-term dataset—essential for Top End fire understanding and management.



Space-borne laser and radar ecosystem monitoring

August 2018

Europe’s, America’s and India’s space agencies are set to take a giant leap for ecosystem science: monitoring Earth’s most complex processes and measuring and mapping the planet’s forests in high-resolution 3D. TERN is playing a vital role in these missions by providing the on-ground observation infrastructure and data required to calibrate, validate and improve the accuracy of these global bio-geophysical satellite data.


55 global superstars of space-borne data validation

August 2018

The international Committee on Earth Observation Satellites has added TERN’s Australia-wide network of 12 ecosystem process monitoring SuperSites to their list of top 55 global sites for the calibration and validation of satellite-derived global bio-geophysical data products.


TERN's role in national greenhouse gas accounting

August 2018

TERN data are being used by one of our closest partner’s, the Australian Government’s Department of Environment and Energy to calibrate and validate Australia’s carbon models and greenhouse gas accounting. Our high-quality data are vital in ensuring the accuracy of Australia’s carbon model predictions and helping meet national reporting requirements under international climate and sustainability frameworks.


TERN data used in space station study of global climate

July 2018

Another collaboration has blasted off between NASA and TERN that’s set to dramatically improve global climate monitoring. NASA’s ECOSTRESS mission to the International Space Station launched from Cape Canaveral last week, providing critical climate data to scientists, helping them have a better understanding of how crops, the biosphere and the global carbon cycle respond to water availability and drought.


Stepping stones to better climate models

July 2018

New research from Australia’s prestigious Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science has laid down some vital stepping stones for further improving the models we rely on for future climate predictions. By providing model-ready data on southern hemisphere ecosystems, TERN has enabled this global scale analysis that provides important benchmarks for evaluating the predictability of climate models.


The impact of climate change on South Australia’s flora

July 2018

A new synthesis has identified the implications of climate change for South Australia’s plant species and the state’s biodiversity. What does a warmer future mean for SA’s plants, including its 418 endemic species? Can plants adapt to environmental change, or will they eventually be driven to local extinction? Read on to get the answers to these questions and more as the researchers discuss their findings.


A national mangrove observing system

June 2018

In a giant leap towards the creation of Australia’s first nationwide mangrove observing system, TERN has provided open access to decades of historical and newly acquired field and Earth observation data. These data alert scientists and managers to environmental change, allow them to understand the causes and impacts of this change to sustainably manage our valuable mangrove ecosystems, and enhance Australia’s contribution to the global Sustainable Development Goals.


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