Obergurgl lies about 1930 m a.s.l., very much at the head of the Ötz-valley (municipality of Sölden) in the central Alps. The research areas of the LTER site Obergurgl are located at the slopes, glacier valleys and glaciers south and south-west of Obergurgl. A variety of logger stations (mostly wheather stations) are installed at different locations at the site, some of them measuring since 1953. Various research project, most of them performed by researchers of the University of Innsbruck, are carried out in this area. Habitat types are alpine grassland, alpine forests, pasture and dwarf shrub heath, glacier forelands and glaciers.
The LTER site Obergurgl is managed by the Alpine Research Centre Obergurgl (http://www.uibk.ac.at/afo/), a branch office of the University of Innsbruck (http://www.uibk.ac.at/). The Alpine Research Centre Obergurgl is located at the edge of the village Obergurgl. It is consolidated with the University Centre Obergurgl (http://www.uz-obergurgl.at/), a congress centre and hotel with up to 100 beds. Indoor infrastructure are a lecture hall, a seminar room, a small laboratory and small libraries.
The LTER site Obergurgl is an important research area for different institutes of the University of Innsbruck (Botany, Ecology, Geography) and other international researchers.
Methods & Expertise for Research Infrastructure
At all four sites micro-climate stations are continuously recording solar radiation, precipitation, air- and soil-temperatures and moisture, as well as soil CO2 concentrations. Since 2001 the net exchange of CO2 and water vapour between the valley bottom meadow and the atmosphere have been monitored at high time resolution, and contribute to the international Fluxnet database. Furthermore on all LTER-sites experiments have been and are being performed assessing the impact of global changes (climate, land use) on ecological processes in mountain grassland.
The Alpine Research Centre is responsible for the monitoring programs and research projects in Obergurgl (weather stations and data collection along elevation - and succession gradients), for research support, dissemination and data availability. Until 2011 the AFO was responsible for the weather station of the ZAMG (Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik) in Obergurgl. Thus, weather data can be provided from 1953 till present. Obergurgl has a long-term research tradition beginning with the continuous recordings of the rock glacier Hochebenkar’s flow velocity since 1938, the first mapping of the glacier forelands in 1960ies and the interdisciplinary MaB project Obergurgl in the 1970ies. Since 1995-1996 the glacier foreland of the Rotmoosferner is one of the intensively studied ecosystems with continuous microclimate measurements and monitoring of permanent plots. A high number of case studies dealing with colonization processes were carried out from different disciplines during the last decades mainly by researchers of Innsbruck University. The LTER-monitoring program of the AFO, going on since 2000, comprises 11 sites from the subalpine zone in Obergurgl (pasture, dwarf shrub heaths, ski pistes – 1950 m - 2350 m a.s.l.) to the lower alpine zone (Schönwieskopf, Rotmoos bog, Rotmoos valley, Rotmoos glacier foreland – 2300 m a.s.l.) to the alpine - (Hohe Mut – 2600 m a.s.l.) and subnival zone (2790 m - 2830 m a.s.l.), including 5 grazing exclusion sites. Presently, comprehensive data on biodiversity and physical properties are collected and in the near future databases will be available.
The LTER site Obergurgl aims to promote interdisciplinary research projects and to connect management questions of the Nature Park Ötztal with actual research programs.