"US Launches Eco-Network"

"Ready or not, the era of big data is coming to ecology. After years of discussion and debate, the United States is moving forward with an environmental moni­toring network that promises to help transform a traditionally small-scale, local science into a continental-scale group enterprise."

"The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) will consist of 20 'core' observatories representing distinct eco-regions throughout the United States (see map). These will be bolstered by temporary stations that can be relocated wherever data need to be collected. The sites will house equipment and host visiting researchers, while gathering a range of environmental data over at least three decades.

The result will be a vast database that scientists can mine to tackle broad questions such as how global warming, pollution and land-use change are affecting ecosystems across the country. "NEON is really about trying to understand the biology of the entire continent rather than the biology of a specific place," says David Schimel, the project's chief science officer, based in Boulder, Colorado."

Jeff Tollefson reports for Nature News August 9, 2011.

Source: Nature News, 08/11/2011