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Research Project: Understanding Water-Driven Ecohydrologic and Erosion Processes in the Semiarid Southwest to Improve Watershed Management

Location: Southwest Watershed Research Center

Title: The AmeriFlux network: A coalition of the willing

Author
item Novick, K.a. - Indiana University
item Biederman, Joel
item Desai, A.r. - University Of Wisconsin
item Litvak, M.e. - University Of New Mexico
item Moore, D.j.p. - University Of Arizona
item Scott, Russell - Russ
item Torn, M.s. - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Submitted to: Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/8/2017
Publication Date: 2/15/2018
Citation: Novick, K., Biederman, J.A., Desai, A., Litvak, M., Moore, D., Scott, R.L., Torn, M. 2018. The AmeriFlux network: A coalition of the willing. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 249:444-456. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agrformet.2017.10.009.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agrformet.2017.10.009

Interpretive Summary: This is a forward-looking summary of AmeriFlux, a network of scientists studying exchanges of water, energy, and carbon dioxide between ecosystems and the atmosphere. AmeriFlux is 20 years old and comprises more than 260 flux measurement sites in the Americas. In addition to pursuing site-specific research in a wide variety of natural and agricultural ecosystems, AmeriFlux scientists share their measurements with one another and the public. The resulting longevity and spatial distribution of AmeriFlux data make them exceptionally well suited for disentangling ecosystem response to slowly evolving changes in climate and land-cover, and to rare events like droughts and biological disturbances. AmeriFlux data are now, and will be in the future, used to address agro-ecosystem research with measurements from other networks including the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), Critical Zone Observatory network (CZO), and Long-Term Ecological Research network (LTER), and Long-Term Agroecosystem Research Network (LTAR).

Technical Abstract: The AmeriFlux community of scientists were early adopters of a network-enabled approach to ecosystem science that continues to transform the study of land-atmosphere interactions. In the twenty years since its formation, AmeriFlux has grown to include more than 260 flux tower sites in the Americas that support continuous observation of ecosystem carbon, water, and energy fluxes. Many of these sites are co-located within a similar climate regime, and more than 50 of these have data records that exceed 10 years in length. In this prospective assessment of AmeriFlux’s strengths in a new era of network-enabled ecosystem science, we discuss how the longevity and spatial distribution of AmeriFlux data make them exceptionally well suited for disentangling ecosystem response to slowly evolving changes in climate and land-cover, and to rare events like droughts and biological disturbances. More recently, flux towers have also been integrated into environmental observation networks that have broader scientific goals; in North America these include the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), Critical Zone Observatory network (CZO), and Long-Term Ecological Research network (LTER). AmeriFlux stands apart from these other networks in its reliance on voluntary participation of individual sites, which receive funding from diverse sources to pursue a wide, transdisciplinary array of research topics. This diffuse, grassroots approach fosters methodological and theoretical innovation, but also challenges network-level data synthesis and data sharing to the network. While AmeriFlux has had strong ties to other regional flux networks and FLUXNET, better integration with networks like NEON, CZO and LTER provides opportunities for new types of cooperation and synergies that could strengthen the scientific output of all the networks.