Short: we are looking for soil temperature data from all over the world for inclusion in our global database.
Many questions in ecology revolve around climate: what climatic requirements do organisms have, how do they survive in extreme climatic conditions, and – increasingly relevant – how do they deal with the rapid changes in climate we are experiencing?
Despite climate thus being a crucial component of today’s ecological research, we are still very much limited in the climatic data we have to our disposal to actually answer these questions, especially at the global scale. Most of the data we do have comes from weather stations (or interpolations based on those): coarse-grained data measured at two meter above the ground.
For many organisms, however, these free-air climatic averages are far from relevant: many species operate at much smaller spatial or temporal scales, for example. Free-air temperature and climate patterns also differ significantly from what happens at the soil surface, or a few centimeters below it. For many organisms in the soil and close to the surface (soil micro-organisms, ground beetles, herbs, forbs, mosses or tree seedlings, for example) there is thus a large mismatch between the climatic data we have, and the climate they actually experience.
However, while the quality and resolution of free-air and surface temperature data at the global scale is rapidly improving thanks to elaborated networks of weather stations and satellite data, the availability of soil temperature datasets is still largely limited. That is the rationale behind our launch of SoilTemp, a global effort to develop a database of soil temperature data and build global maps of soil climate that answer to the pressing needs of modern ecologists.
Yet for such a global effort, we will need your help! If you feel one or more of the following statements apply to you, please e-mail jonas.lembrechts [at] uantwerpen.be for more information: