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Battelle March NEON Spotlight

March 2021: What's New With NEON?

Posted by Battelle Insider on Mar 1, 2021

BOULDER, CO(March 1, 2020) – The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) announced today its March selections for the ‘NEON Spotlight’—a monthly recap of innovative research projects using data from the program’s 81 sites across the country. This month’s ‘Spotlight’ features two emerging research projects focused on the indicators and impact of climate, as well as the first annual release of NEON data.


NEON is a continental-scale ecological observation facility, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and operated by Battelle since 2016. The goal of the NEON program is to provide high-quality, consistently generated data—free and available to all users—that will enable scientists, researchers, and students to address critical questions and understand changes in ecosystem composition over time. The project’s comprehensive data, spatial extent and remote sensing technology will enable the user community to tackle new questions on an unprecedented scale.  


This Month’s Spotlight 

The latest news includes: 


  1. NEON recently announced its first annual data release. At the end of each calendar year, NEON will conduct a thorough review of its data, make any final corrections, and tag data files with a release year and unique DOI on the NEON Data Portal. These efforts will allow for improved research replication and will support more accurate and efficient tracking of NEON data usage.

  2. NEON researchers are using data from multiple sites across the Rockies and images from NASA’s Terra satellite to predict and map mountain snowmelt. NEON scientist Donal O’Leary developed maps tracking snowmelt’s impact on vegetation phenology and mountain water cycles, which in turn impact the emergence of flora and the timing of animal migrations and hibernations. “Most of North America is covered in snow in the winter, but the timing of when the snow comes and goes can be very different from place to place,” O’Leary told NASA’s Earth Observatory blog. “These maps show the date that the snow melted away completely, exposing the bare earth below.”

  3. A recent paper published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology reveals the shift in microbial communities observed by University of Wisconsin and Cornell researchers and the impact those changes have on soil carbon. The data, drawn from 5 NEON sites across the U.S., show that soil with an already low level of soil organic carbon (SOC) may be especially vulnerable to short-term increases in SOC loss with organic matter and pyrogenic organic matter. Soil carbon plays an important role in climate change and understanding the factors that impact carbon stocks is important for managing this ecological function and many others.

“The research showcased in March shines a light on the changes taking place across ecological landscapes and the importance of sharing data collected at multiple sites to understand the bigger picture,” said Mike Kuhlman, NEON program director.   

Read the latest NEON Spotlight.  


To learn more about NEON, visit our website.  


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