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A Groundbreaking Observatory to Monitor the Environment

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Science  23 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5977, pp. 418-420
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5977.418

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A $434 million project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) is poised to 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. Within 5 years, if all goes well, an 8-meter steel tower will be constructed in each of 20 different ecosystems across the country, bearing instruments that will make it possible to compare each environment with the others.