Sunday, August 14, 2016

Terrestrial Sciences at Niwot Ridge, Colorado

Niwot Ridge (an hour and a bit away from Boulder, Colorado), has a long history of scientific research dating back at least 50 years. Today various entities such as the University of Colorado, which includes the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) netrwork, NOAA, NEON and NRCS have observing equipment in the area. The ridge spans a range of ecotones, from forest up to alpine tundra. NCAR's Terrestrial Sciences Section and associated researches such as myself went up to Niwot to check out some of the data sources used for developing and improving the Community Land Model.

John talks about his strategy for measuring fluxes both above and below ground in the tundra zone

Various instruments on a portable flux tower
The flux tower, DFIR precipitation gauge and associated apparatus belonging to the National Ecological Observing Network (NEON).
Inside the University of Colorado's "Tundra Lab".

Sean exploring local hydrology heterogeneity in the tundra zone.

Will explains the new wireless network of sensors that are being installed in a transect across the alpine tundra. The "Tundra Lab" can be seen in the background

The large Ameriflux Tower at the Niwot forest site. Sensible heat, latent heat and carbon fluxes are measured at various levels, both above and below the forest canopy.

The equipment in this shed is used to record the isotopic ratios of carbon measured on the flux tower.

Rosie (center) and Danica (right) gave us a basic introduction to sap flow measurements

Rosie explaining how sap flow measurements work using heat flow meters (i.e. two spikes driven into the tree).

John discusses a number of snow measurements taking place within the forest. These include  measurements  of snow depth in relation to trees as well as experimental systems for quantifying interception of snow by the canopy.

Justin, John & Danica at the Niwot Ridge SNOTEL station during the snow-free season. The large item in the center of the picture is the pressure transducer pillow that measures snow water equivalent (SWE).


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