Advancing our understanding of Earth System Dynamics (ESD) depends on the development of models and other analytical tools that integrate physical, biological and chemical data. This ambition of increased understanding and model development of ESD based on integrated site observations was at the origin of the creation of the networks of Long Term Ecological Research (LTER), Critical Zone Observatories (CZO), and others. We organized a survey to identify pressing gaps in data availability from these networks, in particular for the future development and evaluation of models that represent ESD processes. With the survey results, we look for gaps between data collection and ESD model development, to draw perspectives for the improvement both in data collection and model integration. <br></br> From this overview of model applications gathered in the context of LTER- and CZO research, we identified three challenges: 1) Improving integration of observational data in Earth system modelling, 2) developing coupled Earth system models, and 3) identifying complementarity and ways to integrate the existing networks. These challenges lead to perspectives and recommendations for strategic integration of observational networks and links to the ESD modelling community. We propose the further integration of the observational networks, either by 1) making the existing site-determined networks also functional topological networks with organising spread and coverage, and/or 2) thematically and geographically restructuring or co-locating the existing networks, and further formalizing these recommendations among these communities. Such integration will enable cross-site comparison and synthesis studies, which will offer significant insights and extraction of organizing principles, classifications, and general rules of coupling processes and environmental conditions.
Baatz, R., Sullivan, P. L., Li, L., Weintraub, S., Loescher, H. W., Mirtl, M., … Van Looy, K. (2017). Integration of terrestrial observational networks: opportunity for advancing Earth system dynamics modelling. Earth System Dynamics Discussions, 1–30. https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2017-94