December’s NEON Spotlight highlights three new stories demonstrating how scientists are leveraging NEON data in their efforts to expand the capabilities of ecological science. This month, we are spotlighting Google and NEON’s new partnership, how scientists are using NEON data to better understand the nutrient content decline in plants, and AI’s role in understanding and mitigating natural disasters. NEON data continues to be a crucial source in fueling and sharpening the public’s knowledge of the natural world.
This Month’s Spotlight
The latest news from NEON includes:
Sage sensors monitor environment, support ‘edge AI’
NEON data and towers are being utilized to test Sage technology, a software infrastructure that executes both environmental and urban monitoring by transitioning advanced machine learning algorithms to edge computing, in capturing data on natural disasters. This technology allows data captured from Sage sensors such as process images, sound, and vibration to be analyzed and measured practically in real-time. Sage sensors are sensitive enough to not only detect local and regional changes in environment, but in some cases the sensors can also pick up on changes from thousands of miles away. For example, Sage sensors detected the air pressure wave from the largest atmospheric explosion in recorded history, the volcanic eruption in Tonga. To achieve all that Sage is capable of, Dan Reed, the Sage project chief architect, states that NEON is a crucial part of their work and “essential to tracking and understanding how human activities impact local flora and fauna as the environment has shifted.”
- Google and Battelle NEON Expand Ecological Data Access
NEON has partnered with Google to store and deliver datasets to NEON users securely and efficiently. NEON users may face challenges trying to use data due to the advanced coding, tools, and programming skills often required to access datasets for their research. In collaborating with Google Public Sector and deploying their data on Google Cloud Storage and Compute Engine, the hope is to give users who had trouble accessing data of this scale in the past an easier experience. The new partnership will also explore utilizing tools such as BigQuery and Google Earth Engine, as well as researcher credits and grants for using NEON datasets on Google Cloud.
A publication recently published in Trends in Plant Science describes how plants may not entirely benefit from rising concentrations in atmospheric carbon dioxide; although some plants can grow faster and larger, other processes may be limited. NEON biogeochemist Samantha Weintraub-Leff explains the amount of carbon plants are retaining has created difficulties for plants in keeping up with nitrogen uptake, a critical building block for molecules that make up both plants and the animals that eat them. Weintraub-Leff emphasizes the issue needs to be addressed to discover how we ensure we’re not only producing more food, but also food that’s as nutritious.
Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and operated by Battelle, NEON is a continental-scale ecological observatory network dedicated to providing high-quality, consistently generated, standardized data that is free and available to all users. By enabling scientists, researchers, and students to address critical questions and understand ecosystem changes over time, the NEON program allows the ecological community to tackle questions and problems at a scale that was not possible before.