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Eifel/Lower Rhine Valley Observatory

 The central monitoring site of the Eifel/Lower Rhine Valley Observatory is the catchment area of the River Rur. It covers a total area of 2354 km² and exhibits a distinct land use gradient: The lowland region in the northern part is characterised by urbanisation and intensive agriculture whereas the low mountain range in the southern part is sparsely populated and includes several drinking water reservoirs. Furthermore, the Eifel National Park is situated in the southern part of the Rur catchment serving as a reference site.

Intensive test sites are placed along a transect across the Rur catchments in representative land cover, soil, and geologic settings:

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         In order to obtain spatially distributed information about river discharge rates, the Rur catchment is partitioned into a nested set of sub-catchments that will span distinct assemblages of hydrologic features and several orders of magnitude in drainage area. More detailed measurements and characterisation of smaller, focal catchments are embedded within progressively larger catchments, allowing the critical evaluation and development of scaling strategies. Additionally, for the analysis of the groundwater flow system and groundwater exchange rates on a regional scale, the monitoring of natural tracers of ground and surface waters will be carried out.

The long-term environmental observation system of the Eifel/Lower Rhine Valley Observatory includes:

  • Intensive monitoring of total soil GHG exchange at the intensive test sites collocated to climate and EC towers as well as soil moisture monitoring sites for coordinated observation.
  • Soil moisture measurements will be made at several depths with TDR, FD, and pF sensors into the soil profile, where feasible as far as the water table.
  • Dry and wet deposition monitoring of selected test sites.
  • Monitoring of soil physical properties (density, texture, etc.).
  • Archiving of soil samples of the different intensive test sites.
  • In the framework of SOILCAN a lysimeter network will be established.
  • Ground penetrating radar techniques for soil characterisation at the intermediate scale.
  • Wireless sensor network technology to measure near real-time soil variables (e.g. soil water content) with a high spatial and temporal resolution at the head water catchment scale.
  • Runoff gauging stations equipped with multi-parameter sensors to monitor general features of water quality with high temporal resolution, e.g. pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, suspended load, chlorophyll etc. as well as automated samplers for the analysis of a wide range of chemical species.
  • Liquid water isotope analyzer with autosampler and probing systems for the continuously and high temporal resolution monitoring of oxygen and hydrogen isotopy.
  • A network of precipitation radars for estimating rates and distributions of precipitation fields.
  • Inventory of basic biodiversity data in the intensive test sites.


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