To achieve a predictive understanding of terrestrial systems, ESS uses a coupled modeling-experimental (ModEx) approach for examining terrestrial system properties that exhibit large uncertainties in their functions, feedbacks, and dynamics and, consequently, are insufficiently captured in open-source or community models. The program aims to improve the representation of ecological and hydro-biogeochemical processes in coupled models, thereby increasing the sophistication of the projected interpretations from those models. Model predictions are also compared against observations or field experiments to identify critical uncertainties that can inform priorities for future observational and field research directions.
ESS is a recognized leader in undertaking and integrating research across disciplines (e.g., microbial, vegetative, geochemical, and hydrological), as well as applying state-of-the-art ecosystem manipulations to understand inherent and emergent properties of changes to Earth and environmental systems. Ultimately, the program uses the knowledge gained from these approaches to advance models that capture the function and dynamics of watershed and ecosystem processes.