An Integrated Network for Terrestrial Ecosystem Research on Feedbacks to the Atmosphere and ClimatE (INTERFACE): Linking experimentalists, ecosystem modelers, and Earth system modelers
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Keflavik group

CLIMMANI/INTERFACE joint workshop:

SCALING CLIMATE CHANGE EXPERIMENTS ACROSS SPACE AND TIME: Challenges of informing large-scale models with small-scale experiments

June 4-7th 2013
Mikulov, Czech Republic

Climate change experiments in terrestrial ecosystems build our fundamental understanding of plant and ecosystem responses to climatic perturbations, and this information informs model design and parameterization. Experiments typically focus on drivers and responses at relatively small scales (spatial and temporal). Scaling the information from these plot-level experiments to landscape- or global-scale models operating over decades or centuries provides a significant challenge. In recent years, climate change research has increasingly acknowledged the importance of extreme events as a significant component of climate change. This provides an additional and significant challenge in both experimentation and modelling. This workshop, co-hosted by ClimMani and INTERFACE, brought together experimentalists and modellers to discuss challenges associated with scaling, present the current state of the art, and identify future directions for overcoming the disparities in scales between climate change experiments and plot and global scale models.

Keflavik group

The workshop focused on four themes:

  • Scaling from small plots to landscapes and regions: what works, and what doesn't?
  • What have we learned from work on elevational and environmental gradients?
  • Drivers of biome shifts: Making small-scale measurements of disturbance, tipping points, thresholds, and mortality relevant for large-scale models
  • Trait responses to environmental change - Maximizing the benefits of trait information and moving from static to dynamic traits
ClimMani in Europe and INTERFACE in the US are networks that bring together researchers working on climate change effects in terrestrial ecosystems in order to facilitate interaction, syntheses of results and collaboration. The networks place particular emphasis on bringing together experimentalists and ecosystem and earth system modelers.

This scientific workshop took place in Mikulov, in the Czech Republic, from June 4-7. We believe the four session topics will provide critical insights into how experiments can be designed to understand impacts of key climate change-related drivers, and how these drivers can be linked to modeling at the plot, regional and global scales. A special focus of the conference is how to represent extreme events better in both experiments and modeling. Each session provided 4-5 presentations to synthesize and discuss the state of knowledge within the area and indentify gaps in knowledge and abilities to model it at a local and global scale. Each session was chaired by researchers from the US and Europe with particular experience within the topic. In addition to talks, there was a poster session, breakout sessions, and time for discussion. The overall organizing committee consisted of Petr Holub and Karel Klem from the Czech Republic, and the chairs of ClimMani (Claus Beier, DTU, DK) and INTERFACE (Jeff Dukes, Purdue University, US). The scientific sessions were organized by the session chairs.

Sessions and session chairs

Scientific organizing committee

Local organizers - Czechglobe:

Petr Holub

Karel Klem


Session chairs: See below


Network Chairs: 


Claus Beier


Jeff Dukes

Session topic

Presentations (with slides)

Session chairs

Scaling from small plots to landscapes and regions: what works, and what doesn't?

How well do small plots in short-term experiments inform us about long-term landscape- and regional-scale responses?  Lessons learned from past attempts at scaling. Scaling approaches - how well have they worked (advantages/disadvantages).




Philip Fay (US) - "long-term precipitation/climate manipulation experiments"download

Carl Beierkuhnlein (DE) – “Spatial, temporal and biological scales in ecological climate change research - heuristic experiments vs. pragmatic models”download

Caroline Farrior (US) – “Analytically tractable, individual-based model and quantitative comparisons to data”download

Simon Scheiter (DE) -  “Impacts of climate change on the vegetation of Africa: an adaptive dynamic vegetation modelling approach”download

Hans de Boeck


Elena Shevliakova


Sophie Zechmeister Boltenstern


What have we learned from work on elevational / environmental gradients

Studies along successional, elevational, latitudinal/longitudinal and climatic gradients.  Can we now say whether "space for time" substitutions work?  How well do models capture changes in ecosystem processes along environmental gradients?  Does this give us confidence in their representations of ecosystem responses to environmental changes?




Melannie Hartman (US) – “Use of gradient environmental data to test Earth system models”download

Christian Körner (Basel University, CH) "Experiments by nature: Lessons from the environmental gradients for global Change research"download

Bill Parton (US) " Environmental Change in the US Great Plains Grasslands: Linking experimental results, Ecosystem Models and Regional Model Predictions"download

Michael Zimmerman (AT) - "Soil warming experiments: bringing the climate to the soil or the soil to the climate?"download

Aimee Classen


Christian Körner


Bill Parton


Sophie Zechmeister Boltenstern



Drivers of biome shifts: Making small-scale measurements of disturbance, tipping points, thresholds, and mortality relevant for large-scale models

Increased frequency and more severe extreme climatic events will potentially lead to more exceedance of important thresholds and tipping points. It is a significant challenge to conduct relevant experiments addressing these, and even more to scale up such experimental and field data on responses to extreme events.  Relevant topics in the session are: Thresholds and tipping points in experiments and in models, extreme events experiments, generalizing threshold exceedance experiments in models, disturbance ecology, mortality, hydraulic failure, carbon starvation.




Melinda Smith (US) - Conceptual understanding ecological consequences of climate extremes and extreme climatic events download

Jose Gruenzweig (Israel) - "Impacts of drought on mediteranean ecosystems studied along a altitudinal gradient" download

Chelsea Arnold (US) - "Soil structure changes in response to extreme frost and consequences for soil respiration in meadows of Yosemite National Park, California" download

Bill Parton (US) – “Ecosystem Response of Great Plains Grasslands to Climate Variability” download

Claus Beier


Petr Holub


Lindsey Rustad



Trait responses to environmental change - Maximizing the benefits of trait information and moving from static to dynamic traits

How can we best take advantage of knowledge about trait responses to experimental manipulations and environmental gradients (Phenotypic plasticity? Tissue traits, Whole plant traits)?  Should we be accumulating more trait data. What type of data are needed most?  Do we need to depart from static traits and into dynamic traits, to help explain species-specific responses to atmospheric change.




Peter van Bodegom (NL) - "Impacts of including trait variation on predictions of global carbon fluxes and vegetation distribution" download

Jordi Sardans (CREAF, ES) - "Dynamics of stoichiometrical and metabolomical traits under climate change" download

Jeanne Osnas (US) "Leaf area- vs. mass-proportionality of leaf traits within canopies and across species: patterns and analytical consequences" download

William Hoffmann (US) -  "Tropical Biome Shifts: What models get wrong and why" download

Jeff Dukes


Josep Penuelas


Peter van Bodegom




3rd June

4th June

5th June

6th June

7th June




Science session

Science session

Science session, discussion  and wrap up

12.30 – 13.30





Lunch and/or departure




Science session & Lunch

Science session & Lunch



Arrival for some



Arrival for some

Break out & poster sessions

Break out sessions





Conference dinner



Purdue University | Biological Sciences.