Environmental Science Division (EVS)a Division of Argonne National Laboratory

EcoSpec-MBL collaborative research on ecosystem functions begins

August 10, 2016

The atmosphere, plants, and soil play important roles in terrestrial carbon and water cycles. An understanding of ecosystem dynamics at the biosphere-atmosphere interface has clear potential to reduce uncertainty in future climate forecasting. Argonne's EcoSpec project and a research group at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) recently initiated a collaborative study of local-scale, high temporal frequency ecosystem functions to enhance current understanding of climate change at the regional and global scales.

Research Summary

In 2015, the EcoSpec team, led by Yuki Hamada (EVS), and a team of MBL researchers, led by Jim Tang, received the Lillie Innovative Research Award, a seed fund to study how plants interact with their surrounding environments, including temperature, moisture, and light. Both groups utilize non-imaging, high temporal frequency hyperspectral remote sensing techniques to study ecosystem functions such as photosynthesis, but each employs a slightly different approach.

The EcoSpec team collects hyperspectral reflectance measurements from visible light to short-wave infrared radiation (350 nm to 2500 nm) at a 1-nm interval, an approach that allows researchers to investigate a range of properties associated with the plant's functions (including photosynthesis, respiration, and transpiration), growth, survival, and reproduction by using full-spectrum reflectance data and data transformations.

Tang's research focuses on plant photosynthesis or productivity by using a visible to beginning-of-near-infrared spectral region (up to 770 nm) with very narrow spectral bands (0.5 nm) to exclusively measure solar-induced fluorescence emitted by plants during photosynthetic activities.

Dave Cook (EVS; right) and Zhunqiao Liu (MBL) installing the solar-induced fluorescence sensing tower, June 30, 2016.
Dave Cook (EVS; right) and Zhunqiao Liu (MBL) installing the solar-induced fluorescence sensing tower, June 30, 2016. [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]

Data collected using both teams' approaches will be analyzed using meteorological measurements simultaneously collected by the eddy covariance method and biological measurements including leaf area and cover, plant height, and nitrogen and carbon content. These complementary studies, with the common goal of addressing high frequency atmosphere-biosphere interactions, are expected to yield valuable information and knowledge about the responses and contributions of the land surface to climate changes.

Data Collection Timeline

The first round of solar-induced fluorescence data collection using Tang's newly developed sensor was conducted from July 2 to 19, 2016, in the Fermilab agricultural field (AmeriFlux US-IB1); the second round of data collection is scheduled for August 2016. The collaborative study will continue into the 2017 growing season.

Project Goals

The EcoSpec project is funded by Argonne's Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program from 2014 to 2016. The project aims to investigate the indicative power of high temporal frequency, hyperspectral reflectance measurements for ecosystem functions, and climate interactions to fill important knowledge gaps, including how the local-scale interactions between biosphere and near-surface atmosphere influences regional- and global-scale climate change.

From the left, Jim Tang (MBL), Yuki Hamada (EVS), and contractors visiting the EcoSpec site in Fermilab. The group retrieved the fluorescence sensing system to complete the first round of data collection on July 19, 2016.
From the left, Jim Tang (MBL), Yuki Hamada (EVS), and contractors visiting the EcoSpec site in Fermilab. The group retrieved the fluorescence sensing system to complete the first round of data collection on July 19, 2016. [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]
Jim Tang's (MBL) solar-induced fluorescence sensing tower (left) and the EcoSpec tower (right) were installed in the Fermilab agricultural site to simultaneously collect canopy-scale reflectance of the land surface.
Jim Tang's (MBL) solar-induced fluorescence sensing tower (left) and the EcoSpec tower (right) were installed in the Fermilab agricultural site to simultaneously collect canopy-scale reflectance of the land surface. [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]
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portrait of Yuki Hamada
portrait of David Cook