At Tharandt/Germany eddy covariance (EC) measurements of carbon dioxide and heat fluxes are performed above an old spruce forest since 1996. The last ten years cover almost all meteorological extremes observed during the last 45 years: the coldest and warmest year with mean air temperature of 6.1°C (1996) and 9.6°C (2000) as well as the fourth wettest and the driest year with a precipitation of 1098 mm (2002) and 501 mm (2003), respectively. In general, the observed annual carbon net ecosystem exchange (NEE) indicates a high net sink from −395 g C m−2 a−1 (2003) to −698 g C m−2 a−1 (1999) with a coefficient of variation cv= 16.6%. The yearly evapotranspiration (ET) has a lower interannual variability (cv= 9.5%) between 389 mm (2003) and 537 mm (2000). The influence of flux correction and gap filling on the amount of annual NEE and ET is considerable. Using different methods of gap filling (non-linear regressions, mean diurnal courses) yields annual NEE totals that differ by up to 18%.
Consistency analysis regarding energy balance closure, comparisons with independent soil respiration and biomass increment measurements indicate reliability of the fluxes. The average gap of the energy balance is 15% of the available energy based on regression slope with an intercept of 3 to 16 W m−2, but around zero for annual flux ratios. Between 47% and 63% of the net ecosystem productivity was fixed above ground according to up-scaled tree ring data and forest inventories, respectively. Chamber measurements of soil respiration yield up to 90% of nighttime EC based total ecosystem respiration. Thus, we conclude that the EC based flux represents an upper limit of the C sink at the site.