A terrestrial observatory approach to the integrated investigation of the effects of deforestation on water, energy, and matter fluxes

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Integrated observation platforms have been set up to investigate consequences of global change within a terrestrial network of observatories (TERENO) in Germany. The aim of TERENO is to foster the understanding of water, energy, and matter fluxes in terrestrial systems, as well as their biological and physical drivers. Part of the Lower Rhine Valley-Eifel observatory of TERENO is located within the Eifel National Park. Recently, the National Park forest management started to promote the natural regeneration of near-natural beech forest by removing a significant proportion of the spruce forest that was established for timber production after World War II. Within this context, the effects of such a disturbance on forest ecosystem functioning are currently investigated in a deforestation experiment in the Wüstebach catchment, which is one of the key experimental research sites within the Lower Rhine Valley-Eifel observatory. Here, we present the integrated observation system of the Wüstebach test site to exemplarily demonstrate the terrestrial observatory concept of TERENO that allows for a detailed monitoring of changes in hydrological and biogeochemical states and fluxes triggered by environmental disturbances. We present the observation platforms and the soil sampling campaign, as well as preliminary results including an analysis of data consistency. We specifically highlight the capability of integrated datasets to enable improved process understanding of the post-deforestation changes in ecosystem functioning.

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