OZCAR annual meeting 2024

The 8th annual meeting of the OZCAR research infrastructure was held at the MILEADES center in Samatan by the Lake Samatan (https://www.mileade.com/destinations/campagne/samatan/ ) from March 25 to 28, 2024. Nearly 80 participants attended the meeting, and around ten were able to attend online. We would like to thank all participants for the exchanges and lively discussions during these days. 

The meeting highlights were as follows : 

  • A progress report on the activities (work packages) carried out within the OZCAR RI: data (WP1), the data-model interface (WP2), instrumentation (WP3), cross-cutting themes (WP4) and the international activity (WP5) with progress on the eLTER European infrastructure project, but also with presentations on the progress of several PEPRs (Priority Research Equipment Programs) relevant to OZCAR RI. 
  • An assessment of several cross-cutting themes that were active in 2023, thanks in particular to the support of interns funded by the OZCAR RI : retro-observation of the critical zone, landscape legacies, feedback loops, soil characterization methods, reflection on the emergence of a critical zone observatory in the TAAF and in connection with the topic of the meeting, an assessment of the actions carried out within the network in terms of participatory sciences as well as the outlook for OZCAR RI in this field. 
  • The presentation and discussion of 2 new cross-cutting theme projects, questioning our representations of the critical zone and scientists’ attachment to their observatory. 
  • Presentations by three invited speakers on the meeting’s topic “About data”: Françoise Genova (Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg), Romain Julliard (MNHN) and Maryse Carmes (CNAM). 
  • The field trip at the Auradé watershed and the flux tower on the ICOS plot. 
  • The presentation of the 5th OZCAR 2024 prize to William Rapuc who is currently working as postdoctoral researcher at EDYTEM laboratory in Savoie, France. 
  • Initial workshops were organised in order to share the network’s experience in measuring different variables, in particular the Standards Observations proposed by eLTER RI. 

What is important to remember on this meeting is: 

After not being able to attend last year due to the transport strike, participants appreciated the opportunities at the meeting for face-to-face sessions and exchanges during the coffee and lunch breaks, as well as in the evenings. They were all delighted to gather for the field trip again and discover the Auradé site/OSR SO

Keynote speakers illustrated different aspects of the topic “Around data”, including the national and international context for data sharing as well as feedback from the astronomical community (Françoise Genova) ; or different aspects (conditions of implementation and success, advantages and limitations) of participatory science projects with illustrations in the field of biodiversity and ecology (Romain Julliard) or more theoretical elements around the questions raised by these approaches, their implementation based on sensors and actions planned within Equipex+ project “TERRA FORMA” (Maryse Carmes). 

Significant progress towards downloading data from the Theia/OZCAR Information System (IS) portal in harmonized formats, with the definition of output formats and the testing of data storage tools. This is a long-drawn-out effort, and we hope that a functioning prototype will be issued by the end of the year. OZCAR RI keeps on supporting the development of the hydrogeophysical database and will propose a new solution for high-resolution digital field models in 2024. The team is also active in national data projects, such as Equipex+ “Gaia Data” and the targeted OneWater data project (PC8). 

In terms of valorisation, a publication was issued in Water Resources Research on the work which begun in 2019 with Sylvain Kuppel, then with Julien Ackerer, on the use of observatory data in modelling. The results of the workshop organised in May 2023, led by the WP2 leaders, are being used in a position paper. 

As regards instrumentation (WP3), the year 2023 was marked by a significant effort from CNRS in terms of sensor renewal/purchases, and the completion of an inventory and repairs on equipment acquired under the Equipex CRITEX, which is now managed by OZCAR RI. And, of course, the scientific development of the RI’s instrumental equipment is going on thanks to the participation in several field experiments and the organisation of training courses. 

The presentation on the progress of several cross-disciplinary themes is always a highlight, illustrating the scientific contribution of these interdisciplinary and inter-observatory projects, even if it is unfortunate that our busy schedules do not enable us to devote sufficient time to them. The new themes presented this year showed, if proof were needed, that the critical zone is attractive beyond the geosciences and that our observatories and we, the scientists of the critical zone, are ourselves becoming objects of research. 

This meeting also provided an opportunity to review the progress in the development of the European research infrastructure eLTER RI, with deadlines making this construction more concrete: drafting of application files, positioning of services, drafting of protocols for measuring Standard Observations. The discussions also highlighted the need for additional resources if France wants to achieve its ambitions. Discussions are needed with the supervisory authorities, but also with the PIs of the various PEPR (Priority Research Equipment Programs), if France wants to achieve its ambitions. 

Finally, spurred on by the actions implemented within eLTER RI on this topic, the meeting enabled the launch of a project to discuss and draft shared measurement protocols within OZCAR RI. Whether it be around rainfall characterisation, soil characterisation, soil moisture measurement or hydrochemical variables, small groups have started exchanges enabling experiences to be shared. We need to capitalise on this dynamism to bring these groups to life by involving all the players, particularly engineers and technicians who work in the field on a daily basis. 

Under the very generic title of “Around data“, our three keynote speakers shed light on several aspects of this vast topic : the framework and benefits of data sharing for a community, and the interest in and implementation of participatory science. 

Françoise Genova, Emeritus Research Director at CNRS (Strasbourg Astronomical Observatory), began by outlining the major steps taken to promote data sharing at an international level (OECD, UNESCO, EU). In France, this has resulted in the National Plan for Open Science (latest version in 2021). In practice, the aim is to make data FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable). Then, Françoise illustrated how data sharing has deeply and sustainably transformed the way science is done in her field, astronomy. Data, particularly from large instruments such as telescopes, is shared and reused. The conditions for this are to have reliable and certified data sources, a strong community involvement in defining standards, and sufficient resources to maintain data infrastructures and human resources (scientists, IT specialists, data curators) working behind the scene to ensure that this data sharing is transparent to the user. 

Romain Julliard, director of the MOSAIC unit (Methods and Tools for Participatory Science) at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN, Paris), used the SPIPOLL project (Photographic Monitoring of Pollinating Insects) to illustrate the contribution of participatory science to a research programme. Based on well-established protocols, the database is enriched with photographs in which pollinator species are identified by amateurs, who benefit from the learning effect of the group (exchange forum between members). He stressed the importance of protocols and the social link between participants to rapidly increase members’ skills in identifying species. He also presented new programmes that are starting up around the ethological observation of animals in zoos and his new unit, which can support participatory science projects. 

Finally, Maryse Carmes (CNAM) recalled the basics of SAPS (Science with and for Society), stressing the need for co-construction with citizens. She shared her experience of participatory science projects using sensors. Then, she presented the running projects within the Equipex+ “TERRA FORMA” project, as leader of WP4 “From sensor to action”. Based on several low-tech and open sensors developed under the project, it is planned to duplicate the sensors for use by citizens, to answer questions co-constructed with local stakeholders, giving rise to “situated knowledge” (concept developed by Donna Haraway). Duplication of the sensors will be based on the FabLabs network, and local committees will be set up to co-construct the programme with local actors. From a research point of view, new scientific questions are emerging, such as the impact of these participatory science experiments on the formulation of environmental issues, the way in which knowledge can be hybridised, the value of using frontier objects (such as the sensors or the gaiagraphy proposed by Alexandra Arènes – see article on TERRA FORMA in Part IV), or the impact of citizens’ reconnection with nature on their perception of environmental issues. 

The field trip organised on Wednesday 27th March began under a wonderful sunshine and with a tremendous panorama of the snow-covered Pyrenees. Divided into two buses, the participants visited the Auradé flow plot (ICOS RI), the watershed outlet and an adjoining fallow plot. Among the golds of flowering rapeseed, Tiphaine Tallec and her colleagues presented the various instruments: the ICOS flux tower and leaf area index (LAI) measurements, as well as spectro-radiometric measurements of leaf properties. B. Zawilski demonstrated two models of chamber for measuring gas exchange in the soil, which he is partly developing within the “TERRA FORMA” Equipex+ project. At the outlet, hydrochemical measurements were presented by M. Guiresse and V. Payre Suc. On the fallow plot, V. Bustillo presented the work carried out on soils and erosion, and A. Elger, on the connected systems for wildlife monitoring. 

Welcomed by the mayor of Auradé in the municipal hall, the participants enjoyed a picnic prepared by the cooks at the Miléades centre. After an introduction by N. Racinais on the actions undertaken by the GAGT (Groupement des Agriculteurs de la Gascogne Toulousaine) to combat erosion, the presentations reviewed recent research work carried out in the Auradé basin. A. Elger presented the issues involved in the site’s application for eLTER RI accreditation and its inclusion as a TERRA FORMA pilot site. The other presentations illustrated the richness of the work: the use of spatial data to manage water resources or establish soil carbon balances, the role of reservoirs in limiting pesticide pollution, the characterisation of soil stability and the impact of landscape structures on erosion, eco-acoustic measurement and monitoring of fauna diversity, presentation of experiments to change agricultural practices and develop agroecology, assessment of the impact of these changes on ecosystem services. 

We would like to thank all the participants, the colleagues who organised the visit, and the staff at the Miléades centre in Samatan for their contribution to the success of these days.

Please find all information on the program, presentations and conclusions of the OZCAR days : https://nextcloud.inrae.fr/s/33e32WX3bcSo2qe

Keynot sepakers’ videos are available on the OZCAR RI Youtube channel : https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5q_nMCSksH6ejS1hWGz5F8c0BxSNO9h0

See also the newsletter 2024 (in French) : https://nextcloud.inrae.fr/s/5dXkBgRQztqRrFS