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The First Flux Tower of the Congo Basin Forest

Hans Verbeeck, Pascal Boeckx

The "Yangambi, scientific pole at the service of man and forests" (YPS) project was identified and formulated in a participatory way in August 2012. CIFOR, which implements the FORETS project "Training, Research, Environment in Tshopo" is the international organization responsible for the implementation of the YPS project.
This project is managed by a Belgian delegated cooperation and implemented by the European Union. It strengthens the sustainable participatory management of the Yangambi Biosphere Reserve and implements the first-ever accurate and continuous monitoring of atmosphere-ecosystem greenhouse gas (GHG) exchange in the Congo Basin forest. In brief, the fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and water vapour (H2O) are measured continuously using the Eddy covariance technique.

In order to measure those fluxes, a so called flux tower is installed in the middle of the Congo Basin forest. On top of this tower, which rises above the canopy (See Fig. 1), the concentrations of the different GHGs (CO2, H2O, N2O and CH4) are measured at 15 Hz, along with the windspeed and –direction. These measurements are subsequently used to calculate the net CO2, H2O, N2O and CH4 exchange between the ecosystem and the atmosphere. Flows are averaged over 30 minute periods and provide a continuous time series. The turbulence covariance technique integrates flows from a larger area, thus representing CO2 dynamics at the ecosystem level. The source area varies continuously with atmospheric stability, wind speed and direction.

Further, the CongoFlux-site also provides qualitative and continuous meteorological data of the site, collects ancillary data such as site characterisation, species composition, mortality, LAI, trait and soil data of several plots within the footprint of the flux tower. Margin for additional research is also provided to enable possible future scientific collaborations.
The implementation of this tower is essential for monitoring the REDD + process in the Congo Basin countries and will be a world scientific first. The coordination of the project will be carried out jointly by ERAIFT and CIFOR on the concept of a coordination platform. The scientific coordination platform will ensure uninterrupted and unrestricted access to research data from all over the world and allow wide dissemination of this data. CIFOR joins the skills of Resources & Synergies Development (R&SD), a group of consulting firms specializing in project management, partner of CIFOR in the DRC since 2011 for other projects funded by the European Union. Finally, the University of Ghent, initiator of the project will be the university partner in charge of the activities linked to the installation and operation of the flux tower.
Figure 1. Congoflux rises above the canopy (Yangambi, Tshopo region, RDC) 
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