This project is ’Evaluating the variability of ecosystem water vapour fluxes and spatiotemporal effects of extreme events’ (ECOWAX) using a synthesis dataset of the global measurement network FLUXNET in combination with a novel biophysical process model (BESS – Breathing Earth System Simulator) to upscale ecosystem fluxes globally. ECOWAX is funded by the European Commission with a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship.


Water vapour fluxes are a key variable in the biosphere-atmosphere exchange of water in terrestrial ecosystems and have strong interactions with the climate system. However, research on the effects of climate change has been largely focused on carbon cycling and therefore, many open questions remain, in particular with respect to the long-term variability of water vapour fluxes and to spatiotemporal patterns in ecosystem responses to extreme events. The project ECOWAX intends to close this knowledge gap and contribute to a better understanding of ecosystem water cycling, thus assisting in the development of mitigation options to secure water supply for human society in a changing climate.


The research objectives of ECOWAX are (1) to investigate the range and magnitude of intra- and interannual variability of water vapour fluxes across biomes and climates using the FLUXNET synthesis dataset, (2) to improve the novel biophysical model BESS to overcome current limitations, (3) to upscale water vapour fluxes globally with the improved version of BESS and validate the model results with site data from FLUXNET, and (4) to assess the spatiotemporal variability of water vapour fluxes and the effects of extreme events on these fluxes in Europe during the last decade.


Parazoo NC, Barnes E, Worden J, Harper AB, Bowman KW, Frankenberg C, Wolf S, Litvak ME, Keenan TF (2015) Influence of ENSO and the NAO on terrestrial carbon uptake in the Texas-northern Mexico region. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, doi: external page10.1002/2015GB005125

Wolf S (2013) Insight: forests use water more efficiently during spring drought. external pageEnvironmentalResearchWeb

Wolf S, Eugster W, Ammann C, Häni M, Zielis M, Hiller R, Stieger J, Imer D, Merbold L, Buchmann N (2013) Contrasting response of grassland forest carbon and water fluxes to spring drought in Switzerland. Environmental Research Letters 8(3): 035007. doi: external page10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/035007

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