The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) named the Biological Station one of ten AmeriFlux core sites in 2013. In an agreement finalized earlier this year, the DOE has committed to an initial 3 years’ funding for the Station’s AmeriFlux and FASET (“Disturbance”) atmospheric towers, with the likelihood of long-term continued support.

The DOE contract is important for two reasons says Peter Curtis, who has led research at the AmeriFlux tower since it was completed in 1998.  “First, the high quality data record of biosphere-atmosphere interactions that we began in 1999 will continue uninterrupted. Second, stability in funding frees up researcher time to pursue resources in support of new climate change and ecosystem science.”

AmeriFlux is a network of more than 150 western hemisphere research sites that measure and share data on ecosystem inputs and outflows, or “fluxes,” of carbon dioxide, water and energy. Field sites represent major climate and ecological biomes, from tundra to tropical forests, grasslands to temperate forests.

The UMBS AmeriFlux and Disturbance towers are equipped with instruments that measure three-dimensional wind speed and direction, CO2 concentration, and a number of other climactic variables such as rainfall, light intensity, and temperature.  Curtis and other researchers can use data collected by these instruments to calculate the flow of CO2 through the forest from an hourly to yearly time scale.

“This data record will provide a rich source of information for members of our team to probe in addressing questions of climate change and ecosystem function in the northern Great Lakes Region for many years to come,” says Curtis.