Big data, citizen science and White Mountain forests join up in NEON
Posted by David Brooks | Tuesday, August 28, 2012
My next Telegraph column will be about the Bartlett Experimental Forest's participation in NEON, the National Ecological Observatory Network. NEON is a sweeping project to develop long-term data gathering of 20 different types of environments around the country via high-tech wizardry and lots of research. A big portion of it is "big data," figuring out ways to sort through petabytes of information gathered about forests, grasslands, bogs and deserts, so that scientists can figure out what's going on.
But another part is citizen science, encouraging participation by layfolk like me. Ecology is an obvious area to get more data-gathering and input by non-scientists, and NEON wants to encourage it; this morning, I was splashing around in the Souhegan River in the rain, gathering samples for biweekly bacteria monitoring by the Souhegan Watershed Association - typical citizen-science stuff.
As part of preparing the column, I discovered that the Ecological Society of America's online journal had an entire online issue about citizen this month. Papers have titles like "Data validation in citizen science: a case study from Project FeederWatch" and "CoralWatch: education, monitoring, and sustainability through citizen science". Interesting stuff. You can read it here.