The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a project proposed and sponsored by the National Science Foundation that will create a new contintent-scale infrastructure for ecological observation and analysis. The plan is to link existing ecological observatories with new communications technology so that observations from planes, satellites, ground-level sensors, and field scientists can be combined to better monitor activity on land. The intent of this new platform is to discover and better understand the impacts of climate change, land-use change, and invasive species on ecology.
“Existing monitoring programs that collect data to meet natural resource management objectives are not designed to address climate change and other new, complex, environmental challenges. We currently lack observing systems that collect the range of variables needed for a synthetic view of ecosystem responses to environmental stressors.”
NEON is being touted as an early warning system for the impacts of climate change and as the U.S. terrestrial contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems. An independent 501(c)3 corporation called NEON, Inc. has been created to manage the concept on behalf of the National Science Foundation. Work is moving forward to identify and assess the 20 core sites of the ecological research stations in areas that represent the diverse ecosystem types found in the contintental United States, Alaska and Hawaii. And work is also being done to test bench environmental sensors.
The estimated cost to build this new center and connect various observation points is $300 million for the national center, and roughly $60 million a year to maintain it once operational.
Learn more about the plans in this overview.