This Month’s Spotlight
The latest news from NEON includes:
- NEON Observations Play Role in Tree Mortality Study
Ecologists from University of California, Irvine conducted a study on two NEON sites within the Sierra Nevada region, aiming to investigate tree mortality and its association with various factors. The study used NEON’s lidar and multispectral reflectance airborne observations to map individual tree mortality over a 160 km2 area during and after the 2012–2016 drought. The findings revealed a significant correlation between tree mortality and two key variables: distance from rivers and tree height. The study also found a positive correlation between tree mortality and decreasing slope at lower elevations and increasing slope at higher elevations. The findings from this study will help identify risk factors for tree mortality and design effective conservation strategies as extreme drought becomes more common due to climate change.
- Researchers Use NEON Resources in Expanding Global Change Study
Researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder have made significant strides in advancing knowledge of global change by combining NEON data with computer models created by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to develop a powerful tool: the NCAR-NEON system. Studying how the Earth changes with “Big Data” can be challenging due to data usability and computing infrastructure. This collaboration provides a user-friendly interface with tutorials offered, making it easier for researchers to access and utilize data. Scientists can compare real-world measurements from NEON with computer simulations from NCAR’s Community Terrestrial System Model. This system is helping to enhance our understanding of how global change impacts ecosystem functioning. By bridging these resources, scientists can explore and predict the cascading effects of climate change on ecological systems with greater precision.
- Researchers Set Up Water Forecasting Network Spanning NEON Lakes
Scientists at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Virginia State University, and several partner institutions developed a water temperature forecasting system encompassing all six lakes of the NEON program in the contiguous U.S. Leveraging the extensive and reliable NEON dataset, the researchers employed advanced modeling techniques to generate highly accurate forecasts of water temperature up to 35 days ahead. The forecasts were more accurate than with the previous model, with accuracy positively associated with lake depth and water clarity, and negatively associated with wind fetch and rainwater catchment size. This forecasting system offers vital insights into the dynamic nature of freshwater ecosystems and increases scientists’ capacity to anticipate and comprehend the impacts of weather on these environments. Creating a deeper understanding of the predictability of these systems could help managers choose which depths to extract water for treatment or preemptively apply interventions to mitigate water-quality impairment.
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 are 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.You can read about the latest work and research in the NEON Spotlight every month at Inside Battelle, and on our social media channels. For more information about NEON, visit NEONscience.org