Prediction of climate change in forest ecosystems

From July 1st, 2022, the German Research Foundation (DFG) will support the Collaborative Research Center CRC 1537 “ECOSENSE”. For its interdisciplinary and in-depth study of ecological processes in forests, the SFB will receive around 10.5 million euros over four years.

Image Credit: Fortuner

The team led by CRC spokespersons Professor Ulrike Wallrabe, Professor of Microactuators at the Institute of Microsystems Engineering, and Professor Dr. Christiane Werner, Professor of Ecosystem Physiology at the Institute of Life Sciences Terre et de l’Environnement of the University of Fribourg, would like to be able to more accurately and quickly detect and predict critical changes in the forest ecosystem that occur as a result of climate change.

The sensor network sends the measurement data to the database in real time

CRC is working on an automated and intelligent sensor network based on new microsensors to achieve this. These will quantify the spatio-temporal dynamic behavior of ecosystem states and flows in a natural forest with a complex structure in a very effective way, as they are adapted to harsh forest environments.

The measurement data will be transferred in real time to a sophisticated database and will be immediately available for process analysis, deep learning and enhanced simulation models for short and medium term forecasting..

Dr Ulrike Wallrabe, Professor, Institute of Microsystems Technology, University of Friborg

Currently, there is a lack of suitable measurement, data and modeling tools for full quantification of real-time change processes at the highest spatio-temporal resolution. This is where we come in and develop mobile and easily deployable systemssays Wallrabe.

The impacts of climate change on complex forest ecosystems are largely unexplored

Climate change threatens forest ecosystems around the world, which serve an important function in regulating the climate system as carbon reservoirs. The impacts on complex forest ecosystems with their multiple processes and interactions between soil, plant and atmosphere are largely unexplored. Future changes are therefore difficult to predict..

Dr Christiane Werner, Professor, Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Friborg

Werner notes:A better understanding of carbon and water cycle processes is imperative for accurate predictions of the impacts of climate change on our forests..”

The two CRC spokespersons, Wallrabe and Werner, said:The ECOSENSE toolkit, validated in controlled climate stress experiments and in our ECOSENSE forest, will enable rapid assessment of any ecosystem in the future; even in remote areas.

Interdisciplinary collaboration between the University of Freiburg and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Friborg researchers from six chairs of the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, as well as six chairs of the Institute of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) and the Institute of Sustainable Technical Systems (INATECH), are all involved in the study group.

This means that two large departments are also involved in this project.

Dr Ulrike Wallrabe, Professor, Institute of Microsystems Technology, University of Friborg

The Freiburg researchers are working on the CRC alongside the Institute for Microstructure Technology and the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).