General Lab Information

Terrestrial Ecosystem Science & Technology

About TEST

Our Mission

The Terrestrial Ecosystem Science and Technology (TEST) group seeks to improve the representation of ecosystem processes in Earth System Models in order to increase our ability to understand and project global change. We study processes that have a global impact on climate, and focus on ecosystems that are poorly understood, sensitive to global change, and inadequately represented in models.

Our Research Goal

Advance process level understanding of terrestrial ecosystems, incorporate new knowledge into models, reduce model uncertainty and ultimately improve our ability to understand and project the affect of global change on the Earth system.

Our Approach

  • Quantify model sensitivity and target critical areas where improved process knowledge will reduce model uncertainty.
  • Advance mechanistic understanding and enable scaling of key ecosystem processes.
  • Test and inform models iteratively through measurements and environmental manipulations.

ModEx Wheel

Current Projects

We are partners in two multi institutional projects that seek to reduce the uncertainty associated with model representation of the Arctic (NGEE-Arctic) and Tropics (NGEE-Tropics) in terrestrial biosphere models. The Next Generation Ecosystems Experiment projects are supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within the U.S. Department of Energy of Office of Science. We have a number of active NASA projects that use NASA airborne imagery to enhance the link between remotely sensed data and process based ecosystem models.


The TEST Group physiology lab is well equipped to measure leaf level processes including; leaf area, leaf area index, leaf level gas exchange and fluorescence, and leaf water potential. The analytical focus of the our biochemistry lab is understanding the interactions of photosynthesis and respiration with carbon and nitrogen metabolism. To enable high throughput processing most of our analysis is completed on a 96-well-plate format using liquid handling robots. Downstream of the robots we use plate readers to measure changes in absorbance and fluorescence associated with our assays. A core part of our research is linking the plant traits we measure to spectral signatures to enable a range of scaling approaches. Our spectroscopy lab has various spectroradiometers that measure wavelengths in the visible, near-infrared, and shortwave infrared regions. We also fly small inexpensive spectroradiometers on our unoccupied aerial systems (drones). We have a server infrastructure and database system for managing datasets from our experiments, developing model code, and running remote sensing image processing tools. We also maintain the BNL instance of the Predictive Ecosystem Analyzer, a scientific workflow system for model uncertainty quantification and data assimilation.