Gu, YX; Howard, DM; Wylie, BK; Zhang, L (2012). Mapping carbon flux uncertainty and selecting optimal locations for future flux towers in the Great Plains. LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY, 27(3), 319-326.
Flux tower networks (e.g., AmeriFlux, Agriflux) provide continuous observations of ecosystem exchanges of carbon (e.g., net ecosystem exchange), water vapor (e.g., evapotranspiration), and energy between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere. The long-term time series of flux tower data are essential for studying and understanding terrestrial carbon cycles, ecosystem services, and climate changes. Currently, there are 13 flux towers located within the Great Plains (GP). The towers are sparsely distributed and do not adequately represent the varieties of vegetation cover types, climate conditions, and geophysical and biophysical conditions in the GP. This study assessed how well the available flux towers represent the environmental conditions or "ecological envelopes" across the GP and identified optimal locations for future flux towers in the GP. Regression-based remote sensing and weather-driven net ecosystem production (NEP) models derived from different extrapolation ranges (10 and 50%) were used to identify areas where ecological conditions were poorly represented by the flux tower sites and years previously used for mapping grassland fluxes. The optimal lands suitable for future flux towers within the GP were mapped. Results from this study provide information to optimize the usefulness of future flux towers in the GP and serve as a proxy for the uncertainty of the NEP map.