Delta-Flux: An Eddy Covariance Network for a Climate-Smart Lower Mississippi Basin Page: 4
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within the existing network. Delta-Flux will interface closely
with other national and international observation networks
(e.g., AmeriFlux, Fluxnet, Phenocam, and LTAR), using
those networks to help manage data for public availability.
Delta-Flux has three specific aims: (i) to create a high-
quality, consistent dataset from tower-based carbon and
water fluxes; (ii) to generate a regional carbon balance sen-
sitive to local variations in land use; and (iii) to facilitate
research on the relationship among agricultural manage-
ment, water use, and soil carbon sequestration. The network
responds to the argument that the LMRB region's agricultural
landscapes offer great potential for climate-smart manage-
ment that increases yields and adds resilience to climate vari-
ability. Examples of climate-smart management include the
application of conservation programs, water-saving strate-
gies of irrigation and management, and reducing greenhouse
gas production in farm practice. The Delta-Flux network is
motivated by recent high-profile, science-based calls for the
use of agricultural conservation practices to mitigate global
greenhouse gas emissions (Carlson et al., 2016; Paustian et al.,
2016). The majority of the recommended conservation prac-
tices, including uneven-age forest management, cover-crop-
ping, reduced tillage, crop residue recycling, efficient nitrogen
use, and changes in irrigation techniques, are being actively
encouraged through conservation incentive programs. One
example is the promotion of the Alternate Wetting and
Drying irrigation regime in rice production by two USDA-
NRCS programs, the Environmental Quality Incentives
Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program; this
irrigation practice is tested within Delta-Flux by two pairs
of towers in Arkansas. Similarly, there has been an increased
focus on understanding the carbon sequestration potential of
different management practices in southern pine (Pinus spp.)
forests (e.g., uneven-age management; Bragg and Guldin,
2010). Location-specific observations, such as those provided
through the Delta-Flux network, are needed to evaluate the
success of these management strategies. Therefore, a key
product of Delta-Flux will be a quantitative measure of con-
servation effectiveness within the region.
The Delta-Flux network's multisite data generation will
enable a science-based approach toward context-depen-
dent sustainable production agriculture. First, the network
products will encourage sustainable agricultural practices
by offering data that demonstrates the outcome of alterna-
tive land-use and/or crop management strategies. Second,
network findings will aid decision making with respect to
climate variables-for example, drought/flood frequency
and timing-in the LMRB region to reduce their impact
on agriculture. The farm-scale data generated by the Delta-
Flux network can be used to parameterize and tune ecosys-
tem models of varying complexity to scale carbon and water
use dynamics to the region. Third, through coordinated
data sharing-both within Delta-Flux and with the national
networks-Delta-Flux will have a widespread impact on
sustainable agricultural production around the nation and
globally. This network provides data to help forecast land-
scape responses to future climate scenarios and test the
impact of new agricultural strategies.
Significance and Commentary
Successful completion of continuous, field-scale experi-
mental measurements across Delta-Flux's 17 sites is an
important step in providing policymakers with comprehen-
sive, actionable information regarding emission reduction
approaches. The network's output will enable more holistic
approaches to agricultural production and estimates of the
regional carbon balance. The Delta-Flux network will broaden
the scope of research questions that can be answered by eco-
system scientists, climate modelers, and land use managers.
The regional repository approach allows larger-scale ecologi-
cal questions to be addressed, linking process and pattern at
greater spatial and temporal scales (Hampton et al., 2013).
The network will achieve an enhanced understanding of the
regional carbon balance as influenced by both common and
new, climate-friendly agricultural practices.
Importantly, the network will improve the efficiency of
data collection, storage, analysis, and publication through
cross-site collaboration and comparison. These processes
will be enacted through regular meetings and communica-
tion among group members. Data management is a known
challenge of agroecological field research (Laney et al., 2015),
and the benefits of generating a regional network include a
uniformity of data types, reduced duplication of effort, and a
consistent working vocabulary (Stocker et al., 2016). A high
degree of standardization among sites will enable data reuse
via sharing (White et al., 2013) by following the Fluxnet
approach (Baldocchi et al., 2001) and consistent data pro-
cessing algorithms (e.g., in gap-filling and flux partitioning;
Reichstein et al., 2005). Several sites within the network have
already received short-term visits from the AmeriFlux Tech
Team and its Portable Eddy Covariance System (Ocheltree
and Loescher, 2007), and within-network site visits are
ongoing to ensure a high degree of intersite consistency.
Networked data collection can also more quickly engen-
der a cultural shift from data "ownership" to "stewardship,"
transparent data collection, and public critique of practice
(Hampton et al., 2015; Michener, 2015). The sites eventu-
ally aim to submit all of their data to AmeriFlux and thereby
Fluxnet for widespread use.
In future years, the network of observations will set a
foundation to regionalize and internationalize the find-
ings to develop optimal agricultural production strategies
across a variety of landscape types. These strategies aim to
balance both soil carbon sequestration and harvest produc-
tivity goals. To achieve these aims, the Delta-Flux network
welcomes collaborators with expertise in remote sensing,
regional and global climate modeling, soil microbiology,
agronomy, and community health. The network is commit-
ted to open collaboration for additional tower or site devel-
opments within the region as other researchers develop eddy
covariance and related observational programs. We aim par-
ticularly to incorporate underrepresented habitat types that
may currently provide high levels of sequestration, such as
afforested land previously in agriculture, riverine swamp for-
ests, or deltaic marshes.
AGRICULTURAL & ENVIRONMENTAL LETTERS
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Runkle, Benjamin R. K.; Rigby, James R.; Reba, Michele L.; Anapalli, Saseendran S.; Bhattacharjee, Joydeep; Krauss, Ken W. et al. Delta-Flux: An Eddy Covariance Network for a Climate-Smart Lower Mississippi Basin, article, February 23, 2017; Madison, Wisconsin. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1234363/m1/4/: accessed March 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Arts and Sciences.