Investigations in Matschertal began with the project „Klimawandel Südtirol" (Climate Change in South Tyrol) in 2008, a project financed by the Autonomous Province of Bolzano. The original goal was to investigate the effect of a changing climate on specific microclimates, plant diversity and the yield of typical grasslands in mountainous regions. Investigations have since gained scope and in the last years process-oriented ecological research, both over time (historical analyses, current processes and future scenarios) and across spatial scales (single test plots to entire landscapes and across ecosystem types) has gained ground.
An altitudinal transect within the test area is used for climate simulation experiments e.g. for grassland transplantation experiments to model the impact of warmer temperatures on plot samples. Since 2008 vegetation, landscape type and soil type have been mapped periodically.
Seventeen weather stations have been installed at different elevations, e.g. Schluderns (950 m), Muntatschinig (1450 m), Tartscher Leger (1950) and other representative sites throughout the test area. Today, these stations produce ca. 160 data points every 15 minutes; the data are sent to a central database and QA/QC’ed before being processed.
The University of Innsbruck installed an eddy covariance station, and nine automatic lysimeters were added to measure evapotranspiration and water use efficiency.
Drought simulations were run for the first time to examine the influence of spring and summer droughts on vegetation.
The University of Innsbruck installed a second eddy covariance station.
Seven (micro)-climate stations were updated and new rain gages were installed.