GLEON: An Example of Next Generation Network Biogeoscience

Monday, 15 December 2014: 8:45 AM
Kathleen C Weathers, Cary Institute of Ecosystem St, Millbrook, NY, United States and Paul C Hanson, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, United States
When we think of sensor networks, we often focus on hardware development and deployments and the resulting data and synthesis. Yet, for networks that cross institutional boundaries, such as distributed federations of observatories, people are the critical network resource. They establish the linkages and enable access to and interpretation of the data. In the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON), we found that careful integration of three networks --people, hardware, and data--was essential to providing an effective research environment. Accomplishing this integration is not trivial and requires a shared vision among members, explicit attention to the emerging tenets of the science of team science, and training of scientists at all career stages. In GLEON these efforts have resulted in scientific inferences covering new scales, crossing broad ecosystem gradients, and capturing important environmental events. Network-level capital has been increased by the deployment of instrumented buoys, the creation of new data sets and publicly available models, and new ways to synthesize and analyze high frequency data. The formation of international teams of scientists is essential to these goals. Our approach unites a diverse membership in GLEON-style team science, with emphasis on training and engagement of graduate students while creating knowledge.

Examples of the bottom-up scientific output from GLEON include creating and confronting models using high frequency data from sensor networks; interpreting output from biological sensors (e.g., algal pigment sensors) as predictors for water quality indices such as water clarity; and understanding the relationship between occasional, highly noxious algal blooms and fluorometric measurements of pigments from sensor networks. Numerical simulation models are not adequate for predicting highly skewed distributions of phytoplankton in eutrophic lakes, suggesting that our fundamental understanding of phytoplankton population dynamics needs modification as do our models, both of which can be improved with the use of high frequency data.