tion type, disturbance, and other factors on ecosystem processes controlling the exchange of CO2, water vapor, and energy. Measurements are made of meteorology, CO2, water vapor, and energy exchange, as well as soil and plant processes (respiration, photosynthesis, transpiration, and production) in intact ecosystems. The Free Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) sites (see discussion in Chapter 2 and Figure 2-13) involve long-term experimental studies on the effects of increased atmospheric CO2 on terrestrial ecosystem processes (for example, photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, and carbon allocation within plants). Atmospheric CO2 is enriched in natural ecosystems through a pipe distribution system, and ecosystem processes are compared with reference plots. Some of the FACE sites also measure concentrations of O3 or methane or nitrogen deposition.

  • National Science Foundation long-term ecological research (LTER) sites (24 sites) have core areas of research on plant production, population distributions representing trophic structure, soil processes, and disturbance patterns and frequency.

A key feature of the first two aforementioned studies is the focus on the effects of changing CO2 concentrations. Comprehensive studies of the effects of air pollutants on terrestrial ecosystems should probably also consider the effects of increased atmospheric CO2. The atmospheric concentrations of CO2 are clearly increasing at a faster rate than has occurred during the evolution of current vegetation (Indermuhle et al. 1999), and it is conceivable that ecosystem response to air pollutant exposures will change as a function of CO2 concentrations. For example, the interaction between increased nitrogen availability from nitrogen deposition, increased atmospheric CO2, and water availability can result in greater effects on carbon uptake and allocation by some species than others (Hungate et al. 1997) and may have implications for changes in plant community composition and biogeochemistry.

Action Needed for Enhanced Ecosystem Monitoring, Research, and Risk Assessment

Improved and sustained long-term monitoring of ecosystem condition and its relationship to air pollution exposure is essential if the nation’s AQM system is to have a credible capability to protect ecosystems and monitor progress. A unified multiagency network to monitor the ecosystem, air quality, and meteorology will likely be required to accomplish that capability (Farrell and Keating 1998). Intensive ecosystem studies to understand the influence of air pollutants on ecosystem processes and community dynamics have been conducted by independent research programs at academic and research institutions but not as part of a larger

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