NEON Eco-climatic Domains Image 1
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NEON Eco-climatic Domains (Image 1)

November 10, 2011
The environmental measurement site tower in Harvard Forest can be seen poking above the tree canopy. Instrumentation from this tower has provided the longest eddy flux record of ecosystem-atmosphere exchange of any site in the world. Harvard Forest, a 3,500-acre research and teaching facility belonging to Harvard University and located in Petersham, Mass., is a NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network) research site. Installation of a NEON tower is planned at a nearby site. Harvard Forest has also been a National Science Foundation (NSF) Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site since 1988, and host to atmospheric, hydrological, ecological and biodiversity studies. NEON's focus at Harvard Forest is on climate change and land-use change. NEON is a large-facility project that collects data from across the U.S. on the impact of climate change, land-use change and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity. NEON is a project of the NSF, with many other U.S. agencies and non-government organizations cooperating. NEON has partitioned the U.S. into 20 eco-climatic domains, with each representing different regions of vegetation, landforms, climate and ecosystem performance. Each domain contains one core site representing unmanaged wild-land conditions within it and two re-locatable sites, to collect data that focuses on human land-management effects on ecosystems. Taken together, the core sites act as a baseline for ecological conditions that can be compared to one another or to the conditions at the re-locatable sites. These comparisons at both the domain and national levels will provide critical information that can be used to test ecological models and identify the impact of land-use change and invasive species on the ecology. NEON's Northeast Domain anchors an urban-to-rural research corridor from the Harvard Forest to Boston. It is also the northernmost participant in NEON's nitrogen deposition research.

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