The UNH Eddy Flux Network is a network of four flux towers that use the eddy covariance method to measure carbon and water fluxes over land cover types that broadly represent the NH landscape, including forest, agriculture and developed land. These data are complementary to those from the Terrestrial and Aquatic High Intensity Networks, providing continuous measurements of greenhouse gas fluxes as well as sensible heat and latent heat (e.g. evaporative water loss) over different land surfaces to improve our understanding of land use/land cover interactions with climate.
Predicted changes in climate have substantial implications for New England’s natural, agricultural and residential ecosystems. Development pressures and increasing suburbanization in New Hampshire, in particular, have led to complex patterns of urban, suburban, forested and agricultural landscapes. These mixed landscapes play an important role in influencing the environment, economy, and human well-being. For this reason, understanding how greenhouse gas and energy fluxes vary over different land cover types will help us better assess the impacts of interactions between climate and land use under future change scenarios.
Through funding from the NSF NH EPSCoR Ecosystems & Society project, four eddy flux towers were installed in southern New Hampshire to measure surface energy fluxes, or interactions between the land surface and the atmosphere. Operating continuously since January 2014, the flux towers are located on UNH tracts at the Thompson Farm Forest in Durham; the Kingman Farm field in Madbury; the Moore corn field in Durham; and the West Edge parking lot on the UNH-Durham campus. Using the eddy covariance method and biometeorological sensors, the Eddy Flux Network enables direct measurements of CO2 exchange, net radiation, albedo, and latent and sensible heat over a mixed landscape.
The land surface interacts with the atmosphere primarily through movement of greenhouse gases (e.g. CO2) and energy (e.g. light, heat), and these gas and energy fluxes vary by land use/land cover type. In the simplest terms, these fluxes can be thought of as breathing (respiring CO2), sweating (evapotranspiration), and reflecting (albedo). Eddy flux systems use the eddy covariance method (Aubinet et al. 2012, Burba 2005) to measure covariance of water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations with vertical wind speed in eddies over the land surface, and allow for measurements of greenhouse gas fluxes and sensible heat and latent heat (e.g. evaporative water loss). A suite of meteorological, solar radiation, soil and canopy sensors aid in interpreting these flux data, and filling gaps in the data record.