Integrated European
Long-Term Ecosystem, critical zone and
socio-ecological Research

eLTER at the EGU24 General Assembly in Vienna, Austria

14 May 2024

The General Assembly 2024 of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) took place from 14–19 April 2024 in Vienna, Austria. The event welcomed around 21,000 attendees representing geoscientists from all over the world and covering all disciplines of the earth, planetary and space sciences. Most of the participants attended on-site in Vienna, with around 2,500 people joining online. With an impressive total of 18,896 presentations across 1,044 sessions, the Assembly showcased the diverse expertise and innovative research within the geosciences community. Notably, 57% of the abstracts hailed from Early Career Scientists (ECS), highlighting the invaluable contributions of emerging talents to the field.

eLTER was well-represented at EGU24, with a co-hosted session on ‘The intertwined climate and biodiversity crises: cross-scale observational and modelling approaches’ that included 10 oral presentations and 6 posters, as well as several talks in sessions on long-term observations and research, data integration and interoperability, transforming observations for management and policy actions, and global ecosystem research infrastructures. Key presentations were delivered by Christoph Wohner and Thomas Ohnemus:

Christoph Wohner gave an oral presentation about eLTER and its role of providing in-situ data to large-scale research projects for modelling biodiversity dynamics, specifically the Horizon Europe project Biodiversity Digital Twin (BioDT) project. In BioDT, eLTER plays the role of a provider for European datasets, in particular for the Grassland Dynamics prototype digital twin. Here, GRASSMIND, an individual- and process-based grassland model designed for simulating the structure and dynamics of species-rich herbaceous communities, including these communities’ responses to climate and management, is to be upscaled to model different local grassland sites across Europe.

The site registry DEIMS-SDR (deims.org) was used to identify relevant sites and contact the respective site managers and researchers to mobilise data. This selection process was aided by the machine-actionable data endpoints of eLTER also accessible using the Python and R packages, deimsPy and ReLTER, enabling script-based extraction and analysis. Collected and mobilised data is to be published on the persistent data storage B2Share and made centrally accessible through the eLTER central catalogue. The data provided will enable stronger validation and improvements of the grassland simulations, and thus to better scientific insights and grassland management recommendations.

The oral presentation of Thomas Ohnemus provided insights on the eLTER RI network design. Therefore, the distribution of eLTER RI in-situ facilities was analysed for a variety of thematic dimensions, which eLTER strives to represent. These thematic dimensions comprise current socio-ecological aspects as well as aspects of climate and land use change. 

In its current state, three distinct gaps were found for the eLTER RI: the Iberian, the Eastern and the Nordic Gap. These gaps resulted mainly from the underrepresentation of agricultural lands, regions with low economic density, mesic and dry regions as well as the Mediterranean, Continental and Boreal biogeoregions. These gaps overlap with gaps regarding climate and land use change in Poland, Lithuania, Fennoscandia and the Iberian Peninsula. Closing these gaps is of highest priority for eLTER RI network design. Therefore, this analysis provides a scientifically sound foundation for policy and decision makers regarding further eLTER RI development and regarding biases within the eLTER RI.