Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Measuring the environment

There are a couple of articles in recent issues of Science magazine describing ambitious initiatives to improve our environmental information:

The Barometer of Life
This initiative would need to unite taxonomists, biogeographers, ecologists, conservationists, and amateur naturalists in a coordinated exploration of global biodiversity, with an emphasis on identifying which species are threatened. While the EOL will provide a Web page on every species, the barometer would compile conservation-related data on distributions, threats, and assessments of extinction risk on a subset of species broadly representative of biodiversity as a whole.
The National Ecological Observatory Network
(A) $434 million project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that will usher in a new era of large-scale environmental science. The project, called the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), represents the most ambitious U.S. attempt to assess environmental change on a continental scale. Next month, NSF's oversight body, the National Science Board, is expected to give its final approval to NEON, and NSF has requested $20 million in its 2011 budget to begin construction.

Scientists divided the United States into 20 ecological domains. Three sites within each domain will be instrumented.

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