May 2018
A Note from Sharon Collinge
2018 is an exciting year for the NEON project. The construction of the observatory is nearing completion, with almost all field sites transitioned into operations. The NEON data portal houses a growing collection of data products from our aquatic and terrestrial field sites. And now that we are finally pushing full steam ahead with data collection, I’ve been thinking how do we ensure that we fulfill the mission set forth by the National Science Foundation and maximize the impact of NEON? We set out to ask some early users what they believe the value of NEON is and I was so inspired by their perspectives:
To read the rest of my own thoughts on our next steps for maximizing the impact of NEON, I invite you to read my first Director’s Message . This monthly blog series will be featured on the NEON Science Observatory blog, a great place to read about NEON and how NEON is being used.

Yours, Sharon Collinge, NEON Chief Scientist/Observatory Director

Want to watch the planet breathe? You're in luck—a whole new set of data products that lets you do just that is now available on the NEON Data Portal. These eddy-covariance (EC) or “flux” data products give scientists a powerful new tool to monitor how energy, water, carbon dioxide and other gases move between the earth’s surface and the atmosphere.

As Battelle gets NEON off the ground and running, scientists working on NEON are reaching out to ecologists who are just starting their careers. And for good reason—today's undergrads, grad students and newly minted PhDs are likely to be the prime users of NEON data over the life of the project.

The NEON project is the first to provide standardized soil moisture data on a continental scale in North America. Carefully calibrating NEON’s capacitance-type sensors to each soil type within each field site allows for accurate monitoring of soil moisture, making it usable for a broad range of ecological research, modeling and forecasting projects.

Turning field measurements and samples into usable, downloadable data takes a lot of work—and now that work is paying off. Battelle met a major milestone for the NEON project earlier this year when the pipelines for all 83 Observation System (OS) data products were completed and published to the NEON Data Portal.

We’ve redesigned our field site pages with additional information for each site. These pages provide a great opportunity for users to better understand what types of data are collected at a specific field site, how many data products the field site provides and other site-specific details.

With over 175 data products and 81 field sites, the NEON data portal may feel a bit overwhelming. Check out our new Getting Started page for tips on how to navigate the portal, and download and work with the data. Downloading and exploring the data is a great way to start planning your next research project, proposal or data course.

Battelle relies on the input of more than 20 Technical Working Groups (TWGs), comprised of science, education and engineering experts. These groups play an important role by providing feedback on NEON’s data collection and processing methods; they also help ensure that NEON infrastructure, data and programs are a valuable community resource. Applying or nominate a colleague by September 30.

Funded by the NSF INCLUDES program, Battelle is hosting a conference on diversity and inclusion within data science professions, with an emphasis on the ecological sciences. As part of the NEON strategic engagement plan to build a diverse user group for NEON data, this conference will facilitate development of the Environmental Data Science Inclusion Network (EDSIN) to strengthen initiatives across existing alliances and organizations to recruit and retain individuals from underrepresented groups in data science careers. The application deadline is October 1, 2018.

Keynote speakers for the upcoming LTER All Scientists meeting will include NEON Observatory Director, Sharon Collinge. The NEON project will also be featured in several presentations.

Researchers from the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory (LBNL) used the NEON Assignable Assets Program to gather airborne remote sensing data near Crested Butte, Colorado in early July. The Watershed Function Scientific Focus Area (SFA) project plans to use the data to study plant community distributions and canopy biochemistry to shed light on watershed systems.

Each year, up to 100,000 biological samples are collected across NEON's aquatic and terrestrial field sites. We're excited to announce that Arizona State University has been selected to build and curate the NEON Biorepository.

Drones are gaining popularity in environmental and agricultural applications. Farmers use drones to monitor crop growth and plant health. In the ecological community, drones have been used to gather remote sensing data after floods or forest fires, track wildlife, conduct geospatial mapping and monitor ecosystem change.
A recent Battelle study took the first step towards evaluating their use for remote sensing for NEON. 

The NEON project is producing a vast treasure trove of open access airborne remote sensing data. Can computer algorithms help ecologists make sense of it all? A team of ecologists and data scientists at the University of Florida thought so. To accelerate the process, they initiated a data science challenge.

Tree die-offs have a tremendous impact on local ecosystems. But could the consequences extend beyond the surrounding area? New research suggests the answer is yes. A new paper ( Continental-scale consequences of tree die-offs in North America: identifying where forest loss matters most ), published May 16 in Environmental Research Letters, examines how regional-scale deforestation or tree loss events impact climate and vegetation growth across the continent.  

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