Our understanding and modeling representation of ecosystem processes is frequently based on systems and research sites that are convenient and well studied. There is value in the detailed exploration and understanding of ecosystems over long time periods. ESS research recognizes this value and intends to continue its long-standing support of long-term research sites and topics. In the context of global-scale understanding, ESS also recognizes the need to focus on additional (frequently remote or difficult to access) ecosystems that are characterized as critical areas of uncertainty in our understanding and/or model representation of the global ecosystem. These “critical ecosystems” have been an area of emphasis for ESS in its recent university solicitations and national laboratory projects. Current projects include:
Advancing predictive understanding of the structure and function of Arctic terrestrial ecosystems in response to climate change.
Advancing predictive understanding of how tropical forest ecosystems will respond to climatic and atmospheric change.
Assessing the response of northern peatland ecosystems to increases in temperature and exposures to elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations.