The Expanded Freshwater and Terrestrial Environmental Observation Network is a research infrastructure developed under the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR) program of the Department of Science and Innovation.
Meet the students and staff of EFTEON.

The Expanded Freshwater and Terrestrial Environmental Observation Network (EFTEON) aims to provide an instrumented platform for the South African environmental research community, focused on socially-relevant terrestrial landscapes and their coupled hydrological systems.

A multi-scale approach is taken in the design to incorporate landscape-level processes, long term assessment of key biodiversity components, community-wide surveys and, meteorological and micro-meteorological measurements to inform about environmental and anthropogenic change.

EFTEON aims to develop six landscape level platforms representing important South African Ecosystem-Human complexes. The data products to be generated will be open access and include:

  • Remotely-sensed imagery
  • Historical data relevant to the landscape
  • Continuous time-series data
      • meteorological parameters
      • hydrological parameters
      • fluxes (Exchange of Energy, Water and Carbon)
  • Field samples will include:
      • social-ecological surveys,
      • biodiversity indicators,
      • records of disturbances (floods, droughts, pests) and
      • selected chemical analyses (soil, water and vegetation).

What is an EFTEON Landscape?​

The design concept is based on distributed landscapes, each with responsibility for representing an important South African Ecosystem/Human complex.

The landscapes are intended to include representatives of major biomes in South Africa and human transformed ecosystems such as urban areas and agricultural systems.

The landscapes are supported by a central co-ordination and data management facility. Each of the landscapes is proposed to have a heavily instrumented core site for fresh water and terrestrial observations and a network of instrumented subsidiary sites, to provide supporting data at a broader spatial scale. A Critical Zone Observatory approach is implicit in the EFTEON design with a realm of interest extending from the ground water to the atmospheric boundary layer.

Example landscape design from existing infrastructure

What will be measured?

A standard set of automated instruments, measuring:

A suite of standard repeated manual measurements, covering:

Infrastructure Requirements

Office, laboratory and storage facilities, preferably hosted with or nearby a thematically compatible organisation
(institute of higher learning, conservation organisation, biodiversity organisation…)

  • Office space for approximately 10 staff/students/visiting researchers
  • Laboratory space (instrumentation maintenance/calibration and sample preparation)
  • Storage for instrumentation, field equipment and samples

Meteorological and micrometeorological instrumentation
within this category various types of infrastructure are envisaged, including:

  • Communication towers for eddy covariance measurements to a height of ~5m above the vegetation
  • Instrumentation container for atmospheric and other measurements- would  require an electrical connection
  • Automatic weather stations and rain stations distributed at various points through the landscape

Hydrological measurement instrumentation

  • Infrastructure for the measurement of hydrological characteristics such as flow, water chemistry et cetera
    • Existing gauging weirs or testing boreholes would be considered an advantage
  • A distributed network of soil moisture probes

Biodiversity sampling

  • A network of repeated biodiversity sites would be developed in each of the landscapes