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Rollesbroich experimental test site

The Rollesbroich site is located in the low mountain range “Eifel” near the German-Belgium border and covers the area of the small Kieselbach catchment  (40 ha) with altitudes ranging from 474 to 518 m.a.s.l.. The climate is temperate maritime with a mean annual air temperature and precipitation of 7.7 °C and 1033 mm, respectively, for the period from 1981 to 2001 (North Rhine-Westphalian State Environment Agency).

The soils are dominated by (stagnic) Cambisols and Stagnosols on Devonian shales with occasional sandstone inclusions that are covered by a periglacial solifluction clay–silt layer. The grassland vegetation is dominated by perennial ryegrass (Loliumperenne) and smooth meadow grass (Poapratensis).

In spring 2011 an eddy covariance station (50.621°N, 6.304°E,515 m a.s.l.) was installed at the border of two fields of grassland (5.8 and 7.8 ha) within the study site. Management of both fields is typical for the low mountain range of the Eifel region with one fertilizer application and three cuts per year.
The area within the fetch of the eddy covariance tower is relatively flat with slopes ranging between 0.35° and 3.12°. The station is equipped with a CSAT3 sonic anemometer and LI7500 gas analyser. Besides flux measurements and typical climate parameters (radiation, air temperature, air humidity, soil moisture, soil temperature etc.) also the plant height and farming activities are recorded.


rollesbroich site with micrometeorological tower at the border of two different managed grasslands

 Rollesbroich site with micrometeorological tower at the border of two different managed grasslands


The study site is highly instrumented. All components of the water balance (e.g. precipitation, evapotranspiration, runoff, soil water content) are continuously monitored using state-of-the-art instrumentation, including weighable lysimeters, runoff gauges, cosmic-ray soil moisture sensors, a wireless sensor network that monitors soil temperature, and soil moisture at 189 locations in different depths (5, 20 and 50 cm) throughout the study site (Qu et al., 2013; Qu et al., 2014; Qu et al., 2015). Periodically also different chamber measurements were made to access soil or plant gas exchange (Borchard et al., 2015).


 rollesbroich lysimeter station

The lysimeter station at the Rollesbroich test site


rollesbroich_runoff gaugin station

The main runoff gauging station at the Rollesbroich test site


To access the homogeneity of the study site as well as the accuracy of the eddy covariance method a roving eddy covariance station with identical set up was operated in different distances (8-20 km) to the main station in the period between 2011 and 2013 (Post et al., 2015).

Regularly updated data of the site can be achieved at the following address:

Publications referring to the Rollesbroich study site:

Borchard, N., Schirrmann, M.,  von Hebel, C., Schmidt, M., Baatz, R.,  Les Firbank, L., Vereecken, H., Herbst, M., 2015: Spatio-temporal drivers of soil and ecosystem carbon fluxes at field scale in an upland grassland in Germany. AGEE, 211, 84-93.

Post, H., Hendricks Franssen, H.J., Graf, A.,  Schmidt, M., Vereecken, H., 2015: Uncertainty analysis of eddy covariance CO2 flux measurements for different EC tower distances using an extended two-tower approach. Biogeosciences, 12, 1205–1221.

Gebler, S., Hendricks Franssen, H.-J., Pütz, T., Post, H., Schmidt, M., Vereecken, H., 2015: Actual evapotranspiration and precipitation measured by lysimeters: A comparison with eddy covariance and tipping bucket. Hydrol.Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 2145–2161.

Qu, W., H.R. Bogena, J.A. Huisman and Vereecken (2013): Calibration of a novel low-cost soil water content sensor based on a ring oscillator. Vadose Zone J., 12(2), doi:10.2136/vzj2012.0139.

Qu, W., H.R. Bogena., J.A. Huisman, G. Martinez Garcia, Y. Pachepsky and H. Vereecken (2014): Effects of soil hydraulic properties on the spatial variability of soil water content: evidence from sensor network data and inverse modeling. Vadose Zone J., 13(12), doi:10.2136/vzj2014.07.0099.

Qu, W., H.R. Bogena., J.A. Huisman, J. Vanderborght, M. Schuh, E. Priesack and H. Vereecken (2015): Predicting sub-grid variability of soil water content from basic soil information. Geophys.Res.Lett. 42: 789–796, doi:10.1002/2014GL062496.

Qu, W., H.R. Bogena, J. A. Huisman, M. Schmidt, A. Weuthen, B. Schilling and H. Vereecken (2015): The integrated water balance and soil data set of the Rollesbroich hydrological observatory. Submittedto Earth System Science Data.


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