Faculty of Science

LEAP - Wombat

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Land Ecosystem Atmosphere Program (LEAP) - Wombat OzFlux Flux Tower Site

Howard Springs panorama

Investigators and Partners

This project is the product of the combined efforts of many interdisciplinary researchers of various expertise and is currently operated by:

  • Prof Stefan Arndt (Ecophysiologist)(UniMelb)
  • Prof Jason Beringer (Micrometeorology)(UWA)
  • Dr Stephen Livesely (Ecologist)(UniMelb)

Project Overview

The Wombat State Forest Flux Tower site, not only monitors ecosystem fluxes of energy, water and carbon dioxide above-ground, with a flux tower, but also below-ground. The below-ground measurements are obtained using an automated chamber system that is connected to a Fourier Transformed Infrared Spectrometer in a mobile laboratory on site.

Experimental plots with rainfall reduction treatments will be used to study the effect of rainfall reduction and drought on the carbon and greenhouse gas cycles. These experimental approaches will allow a better understanding of the processes that control the carbon and greenhouse gas balance in the dry eucalypt forest systems in Australia. Thus, researchers will be able to make a thorough assessment of how changes in our climate will influence the carbon exchange processes in forests, and the vulnerabilities of these forests with regard to their carbon balance. In the long run the Wombat Flux site will also enable study of the impact of forest disturbances on the carbon and greenhouse gas balance.

The site provides nationally consistent observations of vegetation dynamics, faunal biodiversity, micrometeorology (climate, radiation, fluxes of carbon and water), hydrology and biogeochemistry to examine the impacts of fire regime, climate on carbon stocks and GHG emissions, and impacts on habitat quality via ongoing monitoring of vegetation structure and fauna. A wide range of ground based observations of vegetation structure and floristics is planned and all will link to remote sensing of fire and vegetation change over time. Measurements of carbon sequestration through time will be achieved via the instrumentation capable of directly measuring CO2, water use and surface energy properties (energy balance, reflectance).

The Wombat site is one of two nodes on the Victorian Dry Eucalypt SuperSite that is actually a regional SuperSite hub consisting of several nodes including Whroo and Riggs Creek sites. This new regional SuperSite’s vision is to provide the scientific infrastructure and institutional collaboration required for world-class science and sustainable management of terrestrial ecosystems in South Eastern Australia based on a sound understanding of their structure, composition, functions and processes.

The tower will provide longterm measurements as part of the Ozflux network and the infrastructure is partly funded through the NCRIS TERN.

Key research questions

The Wombat Forest research site facilitates the investigation of complex ecosystem processes of the carbon, water and nutrient cycle in a dry-sclerophyll forest ecosystem that is typical for many forests in Australia. This research will help to assess the impact of future environmental change on forest ecosystems in Australia. The Wombat Forest research site will:

  • Quantify the carbon sink/source strength of a dry sclerophyll forest and identify the contribution of such forests to the Australia's National Carbon Inventory
  • Quantify the emission and/or uptake of non-CO2 greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide and methane of the forest
  • Assess the role of climate variability and drought on ecosystem processes
  • Assess the impact of disturbances (such as fire) on ecosystem processes
  • Provide a database of microclimate and ecological parameters for use in carbon and water modelling projects.
  • The Site Location

    The Wombat Flux research site was established in January 2010. The site is located within the Wombat State Forest, between Ballarat and Daylesford in Central Victoria, 100km west of Melbourne. Ths site is located at: Latitude: -37.4222 S Longitude: 144.0944 E

    Site Characteristics

    The Wombat Forest research site is located in the Wombat State Forest, Victoria, South Eastern Australia at an elevation of 713m.

    The site is a secondary re-growth forest that was last harvested in 1980. Dominant tree species are Eucalyptus obliqua (messmate stringybark), Eucalyptus radiata (narrow leaf peppermint) and Eucalyptus rubida (candlebark) with an average canopy height of 25m.

    The understorey consists mainly of patchy grasses and the soil is a silty-clay overlying clay. The forest is managed by the Department of Sustainability and Environment and management includes selective harvesting and prescribed burning regimes.

    The climate of the study area is classified as cool-temperate to Mediterranean zone with cold and wet winters (May-Aug) and warm and dry summers (Dec-Feb). Mean annual rainfall in the region in the last 20 years was between 600-700 mm.


    Data from this site is available through the OzFlux data portal international FLUXNET database or via the investigators email jason.beringer[@]uwa.edu.au

    Further Information


    This site is produced by Prof. Jason Beringer, UWA, School of Earth and Environment and proudly part of the Australian Flux Network(OzFlux) and partly supported by the Australian NCRIS Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN).

    Wombat flux tower data

    Wombat flux tower data

    Wombat flux tower data

    Wombat flux tower data

    Wombat flux tower data

    Wombat flux tower data Wombat  flux tower data

    Wombat flux tower data

    The Wombat Flux research site consists of a main flux tower site and three satellite sites.

    The main flux tower site includes the following instrumentation that is located in a secured and locked compound:

    • 35 m tall eddy-covariance flux tower;

    • trailer-mounted mobile laboratory – Fourier transform infra-red (FTIR) spectrometer, including automated sampling chambers;

    • remote area power system (diesel generator and 12V battery bank)

    The EC flux tower at the main flux tower site continuously measures the exchange of CO2, water vapour and energy between the atmosphere and the forest through equipment mounted on the tower. This main tower site also includes a full weather station.

    The FTIR in the trailer-mounted mobile laboratory continuously measures the flux of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4 and N2O) between the soil and atmosphere that are collected during the closure of automated chambers.

    The three satellite sites are located within a 1km radius from the tower and include control plots (no treatment) and rainfall reduction plots (40% rainfall reduction) to study the effect of drought on ecosystem processes. Moreover soil respiration processes are investigated by partitioning soil respiration in its component fluxes heterotrophic and autotrophic respiration. Greenhouse gas fluxes (CO2, CH4) are measured using manual chamber techniques coupled with a greenhouse gas analyser (FGGA).

    Instrumentation of the Eddy Covariance tower

    Instrument Type Make Model Situation
    IRGA Open path
    - density CO2, H2O
    - atmospheric pressure
    LI-COR LI-7500 30m
    3D sonic anemometer
    - wind velocities (u,v,w)
    - sonic temperature
    Campbell CSAT-3 30m
    Air temperature, Humidity
    - T, Rh
    Vaisalla HMP-45C 2, 5, 10, 20, 30m
    PAR Radiation
    - PPFD - PPFD diffuse
    AT Sunshine - BF3 30m
    Pyrgeometer Radiation - Longwave radiation in and out (Lin Lout) Kipp and Zonen CG2 30m
    Pyranometer Shortwave radiation (Kin, Kout, albedo) Kipp and Zonen CM 7B 30m
    Net Radiation
    - Rn
    Kipp and Zonen NRLite 30m
    - Rain
    Hydrological services CS702 30m
    Wind direction, speed
    - W dir , W vel
    RM Young Wind sentry 30m
    Soil temperature Thermocouple   -0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.8, 1.5m 5m from tower
    Soil temperature
    (averaging array)
    Campbell TCAV Surface to 10cm avg 5m from tower
    Soil heat flux plates Campbell HFT3 -0.1m 5m from tower
    Soil water content
    (time domain reflectometer type probe)
    Campbell CS616 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.8, 1.5m 5m from tower
    Automatic weather station
    - temperature
    - Relative Humidity
        1.5m, situated 1.5 and
    Data Loggers Campbell CR-3000
    Communications Campbell NL115 ethernet and CF card adaptor and Maxon Ethernet modem    
    Power Supply
    - 12V DC EC flux station
    - solar panels (4) (BP)
    120W ea 60-80m

    Instrumentation of the FTIR

    Instrument Type Make Model Situation
    FTIR spectrometer Bruker Optik; IR cube with thermo-electrically cooled MCT detector Matrix-M Field laboratory
    Thermostatically controlled housing University of Wollongong Field laboratory
    White cell fixed path (26 m) sample cell (4 L) IR analysis, Anaheim, CA 24PA Field laboratory
    4 stage diaphragm vacuum pump Vaccu Brand, Germany MV2 Field laboratory
    Gas manifold (controls valve swith, flow, pressure, drying) University of Wollongong Field laboratory
    Carrier gas Linde Ultra-high purity Field laboratory
    Standard calibration gas CSIRO CO2, CO, H2O, N2O, CH4, 13CO2, 2H Field laboratory
    Tower profile manifold (controls valve switch, purge) University of Wollongong Field laboratory
    2 stage diaphragm pump Thomas Field laboratory
    Control lap-top (Oscar, Opus, DCON-Utility software) Dell Field laboratory
    Chamber manifold (controls valve switch, TDR, soil temp.) University of Wollongong Field laboratory
    Automated pneumatic chambers Chinese Academy of Science Festo pneumatic pistons Tower base (0m)
    Soil moisture probes Delta T, UK Theta ML2X Tower base (0m)
    Soil temperature probes Univ. Wollongong Tower base (0m)
    4.5 kW Diesel generator (Yanmar) and 12V battery bank Watts 2C, QLD Powermaker Ranger 4.5 Tower base (0m)
    1.5 hP Air compressor Pilot K8 Tower base (0m)

    Wombat live camera

    This image is taken by a Vivotek Network Camera (IP8362) and is updated every 30 minutes. The timestamp is provided in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

    Wombat MODIS data

    The data was obtained from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center for Biogeochemical Dynamics (ORNL DAAC) (http://daac.ornl.gov/MODIS/). The ORNL DAAC provides MODIS Land Product Subsets for model validation, site characterisation and remote-sensing purposes.

    Daily updated data was obtained from this provider, with an area of 3x3km extracted using Python script written by Mr. Darien Pardinas-Diaz (darien.pardinas-diaz@monash.edu). The plots were produced using QC Filter Conditions 000 and 001. Condition 000 represents the highest QC Filter possible and 001 represents a reliable and usable QC Filter, though not to the standard of 000.

    Wombat modis