Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How's Earth's Health? New Network to Keep Tabs

How healthy are America's plants, animals and environment? A new nationwide program will help answer that question.

Called the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), the program encompasses a series of monitoring stations that will measure the health of ecosystems by taking snapshots from strategically chosen locations across the country — analogous to the way an EKG monitors the health of the heart, said Lily Whiteman, a spokeswoman for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which funds NEON.

Scientists say the monitoring effort is essential because so many factors are influencing Earth's ecosystems. To truly understand the impact of these factors, researchers need a way to watch these effects over time. Understanding the impacts will help inform policies dealing with issues ranging from global warming to urban planning.

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