Today we’re wrapping up the 9th Annual Flux Course at the University of Colorado (CU) Mountain Research Station (MRS) in Nederland, CO.  It’s been an amazing two weeks of eddy covariance (EC) measurements and theory, ecosystem modeling, data assimilation and opportunities to exchange ideas with some of the most important folks studying the exchange of mass and energy between the atmosphere and land surface.

Our journey up to Nederland was put on hold after some careless campers set fire to 600 acres of forest southwest of the MRS.  While firefighters tirelessly combatted the fire, CU accommodated our large group of 35 graduate students, postdocs, and early career scientists at the main campus in Buolder.

Cold Springs Fire

A slurry bomber make a drop along a ridge near highway 119 in Nederland fighting the Cold Springs Fire July 10, 2016. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

On campus a group of flux course participants learned how to set up three types of eddy covariance systems (closed path, open path, and enclosed path) and learned which systems are appropriate for different climates.


Setting up the closed path EC system at Williams Village, CU, Boulder, CO

Dr. Dario Papale introduced us to u* filtering (removing data during periods of low friction velocity) and gap-filling techniques to estimate missing net ecosystem exchange (NEE) data that was removed during u* filtering.  He kindly shared code written in C for processing the u* filtering and gap filling, which I tested out on the UNH flux towers.


Dario Papale breaks down u* filtering for the class.  Photo by Dave Moore.

After a week in Boulder, the Cold Springs Fire was fully contained and we were finally allowed up to the MRS for the second week of the course.  We enjoyed an amazing ‘chalk talk’ with Dave Schimel (including the Diver Down plot, aka: Horrendigram).  Rosie Fisher joined us from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and highlighted the newest features that will be revealed in the Community Land Model 5.0.  Dennis Baldocchi’s fire side chat (minus the fire) was a great opportunity for us Flux Course students to have a casual conversation about careers, publications, social media, among many other topics.  Many thanks to Dennis for taking the time to chat with me about aerodynamic temperature, land cover, LIDAR and wind tunnels.


Niwot Ridge, Nederland, Colorado.  Photo by Dennis Baldocchi.

On Wednesday, we found ourselves back down in Boulder with Andy Fox for a tour of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON).  Thanks to everyone at NEON who gave us tours of the calibration/validation lab, the Airborne Observatory Platform, NEON’s citizen science initiatives (a passion of mine), and introducing us to the numerous data products NEON has to offer to the research community and public.


Flux Course participants at the NEON test tower in Boulder, CO. Photo by someone at NEON.

The last two days have focused on learning how to use the Predictive Ecosystem Analyzer (PEcAn) with Mike Dietze, Betsy Cowdery, and Ankur Desai.  I look forward to incorporating PEcAn into my course curriculum in the future and using this powerful tool for data assimilation and model parameter estimation in my research.

Lastly, a huge thanks to those who make Flux Course possible!  This group Dave Moore, Kim Novick, the folks at LI-COR, Campbell Scientific, Belinda Medlyn, Russ Monson, Dario Papale, Marcy Litvak, John Zobitz, Rosie Fisher, Dennis Baldocchi, Ankur Desai, Andy Fox, Mike Dietze, Dave Schimel, Betsy Cowdery (Betsy is AMAZING), and the folks at the MRS.

This post only scratches the surface of all of the amazing material we covered in the past two weeks. Check out #Fluxcourse on Twitter for more highlights.  I look forward to keeping in touch with this wonderful group of talented scientists over the course of my career!