September’s NEON Spotlight demonstrates how scientists are leveraging NEON data in their efforts to expand the bounds of ecological understanding. This month, we look at scientists using NEON data to help identify plant species from space, how NEON’s quality management system doubles data quality, and the renewal of funding for the largest field station in the Arctic where some NEON sites are located. These stories demonstrate that the NEON program continues to be a critical source in fueling and sharpening our knowledge of the natural world.
This Month’s Spotlight
The latest news from NEON includes:
- NEON’s Quality Management System Doubles Biosphere Data Quality
Quality management systems are critical for ensuring that the data and services provided by an organization meet the needs of its mission; therefore, one was recently developed to achieve highquality, comparable data across NEON. Applying the seven principles of quality management (customer focus, leadership, engagement of people, process approach, improvement, evidence-based decision making, and relationship management), this system is integrated throughout NEON's organizational structure with an approach that connects people and operational processes throughout the data life cycle. Now, NEON's quality management system can serve as a model for other networks with a variety of organizational structures and sizes.
- NSF Funding an Alaska Field Station for Arctic Research, NEON Data
NSF granted $19.7 million in funding to the Toolik Field Station, the Arctic’s largest scientific research station, which supports critical ecological research. This funding is imperative, as Toolik provides logistical, technical, and research support to hundreds of national and international scientists and students each year. The National Ecological Observatory Network has three field sites colocated with the Toolik station: TOOL, TOOK, and OKSR. The cooperative agreement enables Toolik to better support ecological data collection, and research conducted by programs such as the Arctic Observing Network and the Arctic Long-Term Ecological Research program. Over 1,400 scientific articles have been published on the research conducted at Toolik. Since 1975, research at Toolik has advanced the scientific community’s collective knowledge of the Arctic and contributed to our understanding of the region’s disproportionate influence on global climate.
- NEON Data Helping to Identify Plant Species from Space
NEON’s hyperspectral data is helping scientists make better determinations of where certain plant species are located. By leveraging NEON’s Airborne Observation Platform and its collected reflectance data (how much of each light type is reflected over the Earth's surface, researchers can combine NEON data to determine the exact locations of specific plant species. This analysis can be used for any NEON site where plants grow, as users are able to select NEON sites of interest by filtering by location and site characteristics, such as whether non-NEON research is allowed, average number of green days per year (Peak Greenness), soil type and field site type (e.g. terrestrial or aquatic), among other options.
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.