Queensland University of Technology (QUT) scientists will use technologically advanced automated monitoring equipment to track greenhouse gas emissions and the impact of urbanisation as part of a new national research network.
The Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN), launched at QUT's Samford Ecological Research Facility north of Brisbane today, is a major Federal Government investment in developing infrastructure to examine changes in ecosystems in response to urbanisation.
QUT's Institute for Sustainable Resources director Professor Peter Grace said the 51 hectare property in the Samford Valley, one of TERN's southeast Queensland peri-urban supersites, would serve as a living laboratory.
The Samford Valley is a unique confined valley on the perimeter of Brisbane which is rapidly changing from a rural and farming environment, to an urban lifestyle, Professor Grace said.
We will study the impact that increased population is having on our fauna, greenhouse gases and waterways.
Professor Grace said QUT would be involved in the monitoring of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions using a newly built mini flux tower and automated greenhouse gas monitoring equipment.
The Ozflux tower will provide instantaneous measurements of heat, water and carbon dioxide exchanged between the grassland and atmosphere, for a period of three years, he said.
It will also measure a range of meteorological data such as rainfall, air temperature and humidity.
He said these measurements would allow researchers to better understand the impact of urbanisation on climate change.
TERN will also include acoustic sensor monitoring technologies that record the natural sounds of the environment, enabling researchers to estimate the number and diversity of animals in the environment.
Monitoring wildlife and evaluating changes allows researchers to see the big picture issues relating to climate change and land-use change, Professor Grace said.
This information can be used to calculate an index of the health of the land and water in the area based on an increase or decrease in wildlife populations.
Professor Grace said the information gathered would be examined, with other supersites developed around Australia in the future, to investigate long-term impacts on ecosystems and develop models for better planning in the future.
The Samford Ecological Research Facility, bequeathed to QUT by the late Dr Elizabeth (Patricia) Marks, supports a broad range of habitats including at least five different plant communities and a riverine system associated with Samford Creek.
The project is an initiative of the Australian Government being conducted as part of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.