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  1. Abstract

    Atmospheric deposition of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to terrestrial ecosystems is a small, but rarely studied component of the global carbon (C) cycle. Emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and organic particulates are the sources of atmospheric C and deposition represents a major pathway for the removal of organic C from the atmosphere. Here, we evaluate the spatial and temporal patterns of DOC deposition using 70 data sets at least one year in length ranging from 40° south to 66° north latitude. Globally, the median DOC concentration in bulk deposition was 1.7 mg L−1. The DOC concentrations were significantly higher in tropical (<25°) latitudes compared to temperate (>25°) latitudes. DOC deposition was significantly higher in the tropics because of both higher DOC concentrations and precipitation. Using the global median or latitudinal specific DOC concentrations leads to a calculated global deposition of 202 or 295 Tg C yr−1respectively. Many sites exhibited seasonal variability in DOC concentration. At temperate sites, DOC concentrations were higher during the growing season; at tropical sites, DOC concentrations were higher during the dry season. Thirteen of the thirty‐four long‐term (>10 years) data sets showed significant declines in DOC concentration over time with the others showing no significant change. Based on the magnitude and timing of the various sources of organic C to the atmosphere, biogenic VOCs likely explain the latitudinal pattern and the seasonal pattern at temperate latitudes while decreases in anthropogenic emissions are the most likely explanation for the declines in DOC concentration.

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  2. Abstract

    Ecosystems constantly adjust to altered biogeochemical inputs, changes in vegetation and climate, and previous physical disturbances. Such disturbances create overlapping ‘biogeochemical legacies’ affecting modern nutrient mass balances. To understand how ‘legacies’ affected watershed‐ecosystem (WEC) biogeochemistry during five decades of studies within the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF), we extended biogeochemical trends and hydrologic fluxes back to 1900 to provide an historical framework for our long‐term studies. This reconstruction showed acid rain peaking at HBEF in the late 1960s‐early 1970s near the beginning of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study (HBES). The long‐term, parabolic arc in acid inputs to HBEF generated a corresponding arc in the ionic strength of stream water, with acid inputs generating increased losses of H+and soil base cations between 1963 and 1969 and then decreased losses after 1970. Nitrate release after disturbance is coupled with previous N‐deposition and storage, biological uptake, and hydrology. Sulfur was stored in soils from decades of acid deposition but is now nearly depleted. Total exports of base cations from the soil exchange pool represent one of the largest disturbances to forest and associated aquatic ecosystems at the HBEF since the Pleistocene glaciation. Because precipitation inputs of base cations currently are extremely small, such losses can only be replaced through the slow process of mineral weathering. Thus, the chemistry of stream water is extremely dilute and likely to become even more dilute than pre‐Industrial Revolution estimates. The importance of calculating chemical fluxes is clearly demonstrated in reconstruction of acid rain impacts during the pre‐measurement period. The aggregate impact of acid rain on WEC exports is far larger than historical forest harvest effects, and even larger than the most severe deforestation experiment (Watershed 2) at HBEF. A century of acid rain had a calcium stripping impact equivalent totwoW2 experiments involving complete deforestation and herbicide applications.

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  3. Abstract

    Stream solute monitoring has produced many insights into ecosystem and Earth system functions. Although new sensors have provided novel information about the fine‐scale temporal variation of some stream water solutes, we lack adequate sensor technology to gain the same insights for many other solutes. We used two machine learning algorithms – Support Vector Machine and Random Forest – to predict concentrations at 15‐min resolution for 10 solutes, of which eight lack specific sensors. The algorithms were trained with data from intensive stream sensing and manual stream sampling (weekly) for four full years in a hydrologic reference stream within the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire, USA. The Random Forest algorithm was slightly better at predicting solute concentrations than the Support Vector Machine algorithm (Nash‐Sutcliffe efficiencies ranged from 0.35 to 0.78 for Random Forest compared to 0.29 to 0.79 for Support Vector Machine). Solute predictions were most sensitive to the removal of fluorescent dissolved organic matter, pH and specific conductance as independent variables for both algorithms, and least sensitive to dissolved oxygen and turbidity. The predicted concentrations of calcium and monomeric aluminium were used to estimate catchment solute yield, which changed most dramatically for aluminium because it concentrates with stream discharge. These results show great promise for using a combined approach of stream sensing and intensive stream discrete sampling to build information about the high‐frequency variation of solutes for which an appropriate sensor or proxy is not available.

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  4. Abstract

    The Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF) was established in 1955 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service out of concerns about the effects of logging increasing flooding and erosion. To address this issue, within the HBEF hydrological and micrometeorological monitoring was initiated in small watersheds designated for harvesting experiments. The Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study (HBES) originated in 1963, with the idea of using the small watershed approach to study element fluxes and cycling and the response of forest ecosystems to disturbances, such as forest management practices and air pollution. Early evidence of acid rain was documented at the HBEF and research by scientists at the site helped shape acid rain mitigation policies. New lines of investigation at the HBEF have built on the long legacy of watershed research resulting in a shift from comparing inputs and outputs and quantifying pools and fluxes to a more mechanistic understanding of ecosystem processes within watersheds. For example, hydropedological studies have shed light on linkages between hydrologic flow paths and soil development that provide valuable perspective for managing forests and understanding stream water quality. New high frequency in situ stream chemistry sensors are providing insights about extreme events and diurnal patterns that were indiscernible with traditional weekly sampling. Additionally, tools are being developed for visual and auditory data exploration and discovery by a broad audience. Given the unprecedented environmental change that is occurring, data from the small watersheds at the HBEF are more relevant now than ever and will continue to serve as a basis for sound environmental decision‐making.

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  5. Abstract

    Synthesis research in ecology and environmental science improves understanding, advances theory, identifies research priorities, and supports management strategies by linking data, ideas, and tools. Accelerating environmental challenges increases the need to focus synthesis science on the most pressing questions. To leverage input from the broader research community, we convened a virtual workshop with participants from many countries and disciplines to examine how and where synthesis can address key questions and themes in ecology and environmental science in the coming decade. Seven priority research topics emerged: (1) diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ), (2) human and natural systems, (3) actionable and use‐inspired science, (4) scale, (5) generality, (6) complexity and resilience, and (7) predictability. Additionally, two issues regarding the general practice of synthesis emerged: the need for increased participant diversity and inclusive research practices; and increased and improved data flow, access, and skill‐building. These topics and practices provide a strategic vision for future synthesis in ecology and environmental science.

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  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  7. Abstract Forest and freshwater ecosystems are tightly linked and together provide important ecosystem services, but climate change is affecting their species composition, structure, and function. Research at nine US Long Term Ecological Research sites reveals complex interactions and cascading effects of climate change, some of which feed back into the climate system. Air temperature has increased at all sites, and those in the Northeast have become wetter, whereas sites in the Northwest and Alaska have become slightly drier. These changes have altered streamflow and affected ecosystem processes, including primary production, carbon storage, water and nutrient cycling, and community dynamics. At some sites, the direct effects of climate change are the dominant driver altering ecosystems, whereas at other sites indirect effects or disturbances and stressors unrelated to climate change are more important. Long-term studies are critical for understanding the impacts of climate change on forest and freshwater ecosystems. 
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  8. abstract In this article marking the 40th anniversary of the US National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network, we describe how a long-term ecological research perspective facilitates insights into an ecosystem's response to climate change. At all 28 LTER sites, from the Arctic to Antarctica, air temperature and moisture variability have increased since 1930, with increased disturbance frequency and severity and unprecedented disturbance types. LTER research documents the responses to these changes, including altered primary production, enhanced cycling of organic and inorganic matter, and changes in populations and communities. Although some responses are shared among diverse ecosystems, most are unique, involving region-specific drivers of change, interactions among multiple climate change drivers, and interactions with other human activities. Ecosystem responses to climate change are just beginning to emerge, and as climate change accelerates, long-term ecological research is crucial to understand, mitigate, and adapt to ecosystem responses to climate change. 
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