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How does TERN work?

The goal of TERN is to provide open access for researchers to Australia’s land-based ecosystem monitoring infrastructure, data and research tools and thus contribute to a broader understanding and long-term sustainable management of Australia’s ecosystems.

To achieve its goal, TERN uses consistent and standard ecosystem measures over time to observe and measure ecosystem change across the continent.




From the beginning, the TERN ecosystem field observatory was structured around three key scales of observation:

  • Landscape assessment monitoring mostly through remote sensing techniques based on satellite data, with the use of airborne data from autonomous vehicles (UAVs). We also undertake modelling and synthesis activities to extrapolate and interpolate from observational data to produce modelled data products.
  • Ecosystem surveillance monitoring, which enables us to monitor and detect biodiversity change across a wider spatial extent of environments. TERN uses a specially extensive network of monitoring plots distributed strategically through the country.
  • Targeted ecosystem process monitoring, which gives a high level of detail at a small number of sites. This is done through intensive field stations or ‘SuperSites’ which combine instrumented or sensor measurements.

TERN’s Data and Modelling services manage datasets derived from its terrestrial ecosystem field observatory. Within its data services capability, TERN data infrastructure also enables the Australian community of ecosystem researchers to collect, contribute, store and share data.

TERN’s project management team ensures the observatory and data components of its national infrastructure are fully integrated. Integration of the observatory’s components delivers an exponentially more powerful set of information. 

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