Welcome to the Berkeley Biometeorology Lab Web site.
Biometeorology is a field that explores the interactions between life and its surrounding environment. Biometeorology is instrumental in providing information that is of use to biogeoscientists, atmospheric scientists, remote sensing scientists, hydrologists and ecologists who are working on problems associated with: 1) the carbon, water, and nitrogen cycles; 2) the prediction of weather and climate; 3) the chemical state of the atmosphere and 4) the structure, function and dynamics of ecosystems. Most of these problems rely on quantifying and predicting fluxes of trace gases and energy between vegetated canopies and the atmosphere or assess the state conditions of the air, leaves and soil. Stated otherwise, predictions stemming from biogeoscience models are most accurate when they consider biometeorological theory and translate governing weather information of the region to the state or condition of the leaf and soil.
Our research program focuses on studying: ‘the physical, biological and chemical processes that govern trace gas and energy exchange between the terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere’. In layman terms, our broad objective is to understand how the terrestrial biosphere ‘breathes’; plants and microbes exchange trace gases, in and out of the atmosphere, in their quest to acquire the energy needed to support their metabolism. Our approach involves evaluating the relative controls of physics, biology and ecology on trace gas exchange.
The science of biometeorology requires the study of complexity, defined as the study of systems whose whole is a function of many inter-connected parts. One of the tasks of biometeorology is to interpret a suite non-linear and coupled information from an array of biophysical processes (e.g. turbulence and diffusion, photon transfer through vegetation, evaporation, photosynthesis, plant and soil respiration, and stomatal mechanics) that span a spectrum of time and space scales. The time scales of my research spans events occurring on periods of seconds, hours, days, seasons, years and decades. The spatial scales of my work differ vertically and horizontally. The vertical dimensions of our work spans the scales associated with soil profile (-1 m), plant canopy (10+ m) and the planetary boundary layer (1000+ m). The horizontal dimensions of our work span the scales of a leaf (0.1 m), the fetch across a landscape (100 - 1000 m), and the continent and globe (1000-10,000 km). Ultimately, we are striving to develop models and acquire data that enables us to assess fluxes of water and carbon 'everywhere and all of the time'.
Our research approach involves the coordinated use of experimental measurements and theoretical models to understand the physical, biological, and chemical processes that control trace gas fluxes between the biosphere and atmosphere and to quantify their temporal and spatial variations.
Measuring and modeling carbon, water and energy exchange of ecosystems that experience extremes in water is the focus of our current research activities. One set of studies is being conducted over semi-arid, Mediterranean oak woodlands and annual grasslands, which access deep water tables. We have been measuring carbon, water and energy fluxes over a pair of sites, an oak woodland and annual grassland since 2000. This gives us the ability to look at the roles of land use and interannual variability and seasonal weather on mass and energy exchange.
Another set of studies is being conducted over a range of land use types on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. We are addressing the issues of how the drainage of peatlands for agriculture affects soil subsidence through excess soil respiration, and how to stop or reverse this problem through the restoration of wetlands and the planting of rice. We are currently operating a meso-network of flux towers over rice, alfalfa and restored wetlands of differing ages. We are looking at unintended consequences of restoring wetlands for its carbon sequestration through the less desirable production of methane and excess evaporation in flooded environments.
The synthesis and upscaling this flux information regionally and globally is being accomplished through our coordination and association with the AmeriFlux and FLUXNET projects and concurrent acquisition of multi-faceted remote sensing products.
Feel free to send us an email if you find any bugs:
jverfail at berkeley.edu
Last Updated: 2016-06-22
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation and US Department of Energy. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the supporters.