Articles | Volume 12, issue 16
Research article
31 Aug 2012
Research article |  | 31 Aug 2012

Observing the continental-scale carbon balance: assessment of sampling complementarity and redundancy in a terrestrial assimilation system by means of quantitative network design

T. Kaminski, P. J. Rayner, M. Voßbeck, M. Scholze, and E. Koffi

Abstract. This paper investigates the relationship between the heterogeneity of the terrestrial carbon cycle and the optimal design of observing networks to constrain it. We combine the methods of quantitative network design and carbon-cycle data assimilation to a hierarchy of increasingly heterogeneous descriptions of the European terrestrial biosphere as indicated by increasing diversity of plant functional types. We employ three types of observations, flask measurements of CO2 concentrations, continuous measurements of CO2 and pointwise measurements of CO2 flux. We show that flux measurements are extremely efficient for relatively homogeneous situations but not robust against increasing or unknown complexity. Here a hybrid approach is necessary, and we recommend its use in the development of integrated carbon observing systems.

Final-revised paper