TERN is the national observatory for Australian ecosystems, delivering data streams that enable environmental research and management. Our infrastructure and data products are being used by some of Australia’s most successful scientists, spread across many universities and institutions.
How do we know? More than $8.5 million worth of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery projects funded over the past four years rely on components of the collaborative research infrastructure delivered through TERN. Moreover, we can now report that three prestigious ARC Centres of Excellence (ARC CoE) currently rely on TERN’s infrastructure and open data.
The ARC CoE for Climate System Science; the ARC CoE for Plant Energy Biology; and the ARC CoE for Environmental Decisions all rely on TERN to deliver world-leading climate science and advanced vegetation biology; and make the most appropriate environmental decisions.
The ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science uses TERN's data on the exchanges of gas and water between the atmosphere and ecosystems collected by our national network of flux monitoring towers. TERN’s flux data, together with modelled climate data from TERN’s ecosystem modelling infrastructure, is used by the CoE in the development and applications of land-surface climate models and in research that is improving our understanding of ecosystem function and biogeochemical cycles.
Thanks to the incorporation of real measurements of ecosystem processes, which have been made available through TERN, CoE for Climate System Science researchers have improved Australia’s Community Atmosphere-Biosphere-Land Exchange model (CABLE), and Australian Community Climate Earth Systems Simulator (ACCESS) used in climate prediction. In one such CoE for Climate System Science project, OzFlux data was vital in the testing of a new component of CABLE, which was subsequently successfully incorporated into ACCESS and used to estimate the intensity of future heat waves and demonstrate their potential impacts.
Data collected by TERN's national network of flux monitoring towers, including at Tumbarumba in southern New South Wales (above) are used by the CoE for Climate System Science in the development and applications of land-surface climate models and in research that is improving our understanding of ecosystem function and biogeochemical cycles
The ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Energy Biology uses TERN research infrastructure, data and collaborative networks to conduct research into plant energy efficiency—a measure of the synthesis, transport, storage and use of plant molecules that determines the final yield of plant products. Researchers from the CoE for Plant Energy Biology regularly visit TERN’s environmental monitoring ‘SuperSites’ to undertake field experiments. This field data is often used in association with climate and energy and water flux data collected by co-located TERN flux monitoring infrastructure. For example, in just one TERN supported project by the CoE for Plant Energy Biology, data collected by CoE researchers at TERN’s monitoring sites were used with TERN delivered climate data to assess the global variability of leaf respiration in relation to climate and plant types and traits.
There is considerable evidence that our infrastructure has been instrumental in establishing and maintaining successful collaborative networks between CoE for Plant Energy Biology researchers and the broader ecosystem science community. The establishment of the Australian Phenocam Network is one example and was created thanks to collaborations between TERN and CoE for Plant Energy Biology and an ARC Linkage Project grant. TERN currently works with the CoE for Plant Energy Biology and fellow NCRIS project the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (APPF), to maintain the infrastructure that delivers real-time, open access imagery and plant phenology data. A 2014 TERN led workshop on vegetation modelling, biodiversity and ecosystem function that brought together Australia’s leading plant scientists, including from the CoE for Plant Energy Biology, is another example of the impact TERN’s collaborative networks deliver.
TERN’s national vegetation surveillance infrastructure, inclduing the above 'phenocams' installed at TERN's FNQ Rainforest SuperSite, and data it delivers are helping CoE for Plant Energy Biology researchers monitor vegetation and better understand how climate change will affect ecosystems around the world
TERN supports multiple themes of research with the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, including: environmental policy and management evaluation; optimal monitoring; and ecological theory. Researchers at the CoE for Environmental Decisions use TERN's network of long-term ecological monitoring sites and the data it collects and makes publically available.
CoE for Environmental Decisions researchers, together with Australian National University (ANU) ecologists, have used TERN’s long-term ecological research sites at Nanangroe in New South Wales (above) to better integrate the environment and farming to deliver increased productivity, improved conservation outcomes and more resilient farming communities (photo courtesy of Chris MacGregor)
It’s not just TERN infrastructure that’s supporting Australia’s most successful scientists. 33 out of the 34 Australian Research Council (ARC) Centres of Excellence (CoE) funded between 2011 and 2017 rely on components of the collaborative research infrastructure delivered through NCRIS.
ARC CoE rely on NCRIS infrastructure, such as telescopes, synchrotrons, ocean observing networks, and e-research systems, to undertake innovative and transformational research that advances Australia’s capabilities and knowledge.
Support of almost 100% of these prestigious foci of expertise is evidence that NCRIS infrastructure is critical for delivering outstanding research and maintaining and developing Australia’s international standing in research areas of national priority.
Published in TERN newsletter October 2017