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The TERENO Pre-Alpine Observatory covers parts of the Bavarian Alps (Ammergau Mountains) and their foreland, with the Ammer and Rott catchment (655 km2) areas at its core. The setup of the observatory in this region was motivated by the fact that such mountain areas have been exposed to more intense warming compared with the global average trend and to higher frequencies of extreme hydrological events, such as droughts and intensive rainfall.  Analyses of the temperature time series for the Mount Hohenpeissenberg German Weather Service station reveal a mean temperature increase of 1.5°C for the years 1880 to 2012. This corresponds to around twice the globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature increase of 0.78°C and clearly exceeds the average global land temperature increase of 1.17°C for the same period.

Due to the dominance in land cover particularly in the valley bottoms, most of the individual measuring sites operated in the TERENO Pre-Alpine Observatory are established on grassland sites. Similar to even larger areas in Austria, Italy, France, Switzerland, and other mountainous regions of the world, these alpine and pre-alpine sites are mainly used for fodder production and thus provide important economic value through milk and meat production. However, grassland cultivations are not only of eminent importance economically; they also provide various ecosystem services that regulate, support, and underpin the environment we live in. These environmental services include the function of soils for (i) C and N storage, with feedback to climate change, soil fertility, and biodiversity; (ii) water retention; and (iii) recreation and tourism. Climate change can impose severe threats to the aforementioned functions and will require agricultural adaptations to further sustain food and fodder production.