The Zöbelboden was established in 1992 as the only Integrated Monitoring station in Austria under the UN Convention on long-range transboundary air pollution (CLRTAP). In 2006 it became part of LTER Austria. The Zöbelboden covers a small forested catchment (90 ha) of a karstic mountain range (500 to 950 m above sea level) in the Kalkalpen national park. Monitoring and research is focussing on air pollution effects on forested catchments and its interaction with climate change. The Zöbelboden represents one of the best known karst catchments in Europe with long-term data series of the major components of its ecosystems. The Zöbelboden is managed by the Umweltbundesamt GmbH. Sampling of chemical specimen is done by local staff. Chemical analyses are carried out by the laboratory of the Umweltbundesamt in Vienna.
LTER Zöbelboden is a small, well definable catchment of 90 ha in the National Park Kalkalpen in Austria. Material inputs, pollutants and nutrients via air and precipitation are measured as well as their effects on the ecosystem. Their behaviour within the ecosystem is studied in a comprehensive manner and effects are determined. With standardized methods the long-term trends of ecosystem water and element fluxes are studied. Outputs through surface waters and into groundwater are part of this work as are trends in biodiversity and effects of climate change. The the long-term data is used in the UNECE CLRTAP effects monitoring Networks (http://www.unece-wge.org), in EMEP, and the national air pollution monitoring. LTER Zöbelboden is an important site within the Austrian LTER (www.lter-austria.at) network so that many research institutions use the site in their projects. Since 2017 LTER Zöbelboden is part of the Austrian research network for ecosystem effects of extreme climate events LTER-CWN (https://www.lter-austria.at/en/cwn-project).
Methods & Expertise for Research Infrastructure
Fields of activity to date have focused strongly on the impact of airborne pollutants on forest ecosystems. The current on-going and future research fields comprise three themes that address contemporary environmental problems:
- Effects on ecosystems, including biodiversity, of too high levels of nitrogen in the atmosphere,
- Carbon sink function of forests affected by disturbance impact, and
- Material flows in karstic catchment areas.
Zöbelboden is the best-equipped and investigated forested karst catchment area in Austria. The forest ecosystem represents important sites within the Northern Limestone Alps. Long-term research into karst systems are very rare and should comprise a significant contribution by Austria to international research, since these areas are both ecologically sensitive and extremely important for drinking water supply.
The site is part of many national and international monitoring and research networkds (ICP Integrated Monitoring, EMEP, LTER, forestREplot, SoilTemp, LifePlan, IG-L, EU NEC-D, etc.). The Zöbelboden is managed by the Environement Agency Austria with technical support of the Kalkalpen National Park and the Austrian Federal Forests.