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Extreme rain not a dampener for new flux tower

TERN not only provides the national ecosystem data infrastructure to enable better understanding of extreme events in Australia – it sometimes has to work in the face of these events itself.

Most recently, TERN’s Australian Supersite Network (ASN) faced the challenge of installing a new 40 m high flux tower (part of the OzFlux network) at the Robson Creek node of the FNQ Rainforest Supersite. Installing such a tall tower in any location is quite a task, but working in a remote, World Heritage-listed, tropical rainforest significantly increases the complexity and risk of the task!

 

Looking from the top of the new flux tower at Robson Creek across the World Heritage-listed rainforest. The FNQ Rainforest Supersite enables research to
better understand this unique ecosystem.

After a significant investment in planning to work around the limitations of the site, and obtaining the many necessary permits from regulatory bodies, the final challenge came this month when the team had to work through a week of unseasonal, wet-season-intensity rainfall in order to install the tower. In the final, critical week, when a 40 tonne crane had to be used to lower the top sections of the tower into place, more than 120 mm of rain fell, providing more than enough mud to challenge the experienced rigging team.

 

The new flux tower at the Robson Creek will allow researchers to monitor the exchange of carbon, water and energy between the rainforest and the atmosphere

Their efforts have paid off though, as the freestanding tower is now in place. ASN and OzFlux will now be able to develop a quantitative flux system in the rainforests of the far north, and the data will complement plot survey and remote sensing data also available for the site. In addition, this new flux system expands the range of ecosystems covered by the OzFlux network within Australia, and in a global context will enable new comparisons with flux systems at sites in tropical rainforests on other continents.

The flux data from this tower will be flowing and publicly available through the OzFlux data portal by the end of June.

For more information on the FNQ Rainforest Supersite, contact Associate Professor Mike Liddell by email or phone on (07) 4042 1275.

 

Looking down on the rainforest from the top of the new flux tower

 

 

Published in TERN e-Newsletter May 2013

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