The TERN Australian SuperSite Network is made up of a number of "SuperSites" located across the country, each representative of a different ecosystem type.

A core set of experiments is conducted at each SuperSite to measure ecosystem properties in an appropriate manner for the ecosystem being studied. Data collected from the SuperSites are described, formatted and indexed to create a complete record available for use by the scientific, management and policy communities and the wider public.

The multiple data streams generated from each SuperSite can be combined to build regional- or continental-scale models. Alternatively, data from different instruments can be used to develop interdisciplinary, comprehensive site-based models.

The TERN SuperSite network data is made available to the ecosystem research community from a single point of access to ease research data discovery and encourage the exchange of information between ecosystem scientists.

History of the development of the TERN SuperSites

The SuperSite Network began operations in 2009, by augmenting existing hardware and field programs at two existing long-term ecological research stations, Daintree Rainforest Observatory (JCU) and Samford Ecological Research Facility (QUT). In 2011 several additional SuperSites were also developed from existing field stations, while other SuperSites were developed from scratch at carefully chosen locations in biomes of significance. Each new SuperSite required significant co-contributions from the managing institution and the involvement of land management stakeholders. Each site was required to be situated in a different and significant Australian biome with suitable terrain to host an OzFlux eddy covariance tower. Currently, the SuperSite Network is made up of 10 ecosystem monitoring sites across the continent.

Governance model

The TERN Australian SuperSite Network is managed by James Cook University . Day to day running of the TERN SuperSites is managed by a SuperSite Central operation comprised of a Facility Director, Coordinator, Data Team and Finance. The Facility Director provides scientific and financial planning direction for the network, the Coordinator is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the network and looks after contracting, network protocols, outreach and initiation and development of external network relationships. The Data Team (data portal manager/software developer, data librarian, sensor support) ensures the field data streams are collected, described, archived and delivered in a manner that is robust.

Each SuperSite is lead by a Principal Investigator and a deputy leader that also belong to the SuperSites Scientific Advisory Council (SSAC) that meets three to four times a year. All major network-wide decisions are derived through consultation with the SSAC.

Flux towers in the SuperSite network are supported by the TERN OzFlux network .

Growing the TERN SuperSites network

Development of the SuperSite Network has, by necessity, been collaborative and incremental in nature. The uncertainty of long-term funding has necessitated pre-existing and continuing co-investment by state governments and institutions. Future development of the SuperSites will focus on implementing a full suite of monitoring with improved quality assurance and quality control processes, while avoiding gaps in data streams.

Future expansion of the SuperSite Network will require careful consideration and gap analyses of existing monitoring programmes across Australian ecosystems and evidence-based prioritisation, to highlight those likely to most benefit from systematic monitoring. New sites will need to be suitable and valuable for a range of TERN’s ecosystem monitoring including OzFlux eddy covariance and remote sensing AusCover activities and will require long-term commitment and co-investment from managing institutions and stakeholders.

TERN Australian SuperSite Network 2015-16 Project Plan - Delivering a sustainable long term ecosystem observatory for Australia.