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  1. Abstract

    Plant phenology regulates the carbon cycle and land‐atmosphere coupling. Currently, climate models often disagree with observations on the seasonal cycle of vegetation growth, partially due to how spring onset is measured and simulated. Here we use both thermal and leaf area index (LAI) based indicators to characterize spring onset in CMIP6 models. Although the historical timing varies considerably across models, most agree that spring has advanced in recent decades and will continue to arrive earlier with future warming. Across the Northern Hemisphere for the periods 1950–2014, 1981–2014, and 2015–2099 in the historical and SSP5‐8.5 simulations, thermal‐based indicators estimate spring advances of −0.7 ± 0.2, −1.4 ± 0.4, and −2.4 ± 0.7 days/decade, while LAI‐based indicators estimate −0.4 ± 0.3, −0.1 ± 0.3, and −1±1.1 days/decade. Thereby, LAI‐based indicators exhibit weaker trends toward earlier onset, leading to uncertainties from different indices being as large or larger than model uncertainty. Reconciling these discrepancies is critical for understanding future changes in spring onset.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Macrosystem‐scale research is supported by many ecological networks of people, infrastructure, and data. However, no network is sufficient to address all macrosystems ecology research questions, and there is much to be gained by conducting research and sharing resources across multiple networks. Unfortunately, conducting macrosystem research across networks is challenging due to the diversity of expertise and skills required, as well as issues related to data discoverability, veracity, and interoperability. The ecological and environmental science community could substantially benefit from networking existing networks to leverage past research investments and spur new collaborations. Here, we describe the need for a “network of networks” (NoN) approach to macrosystems ecological research and articulate both the challenges and potential benefits associated with such an effort. We describe the challenges brought by rapid increases in the volume, velocity, and variety of “big data” ecology and highlight how a NoN could build on the successes and creativity within component networks, while also recognizing and improving upon past failures. We argue that a NoN approach requires careful planning to ensure that it is accessible and inclusive, incorporates multimodal communications and ways to interact, supports the creation, testing, and promulgation of community standards, and ensures individuals and groups receive appropriate credit for their contributions. Additionally, a NoN must recognize important trade‐offs in network architecture, including how the degree of centralization of people, infrastructure, and data influence network scalability and creativity. If implemented carefully and thoughtfully, a NoN has the potential to substantially advance our understanding of ecological processes, characteristics, and trajectories across broad spatial and temporal scales in an efficient, inclusive, and equitable manner.

     
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  3. Abstract

    It is a critical time to reflect on the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) science to date as well as envision what research can be done right now with NEON (and other) data and what training is needed to enable a diverse user community. NEON became fully operational in May 2019 and has pivoted from planning and construction to operation and maintenance. In this overview, the history of and foundational thinking around NEON are discussed. A framework of open science is described with a discussion of how NEON can be situated as part of a larger data constellation—across existing networks and different suites of ecological measurements and sensors. Next, a synthesis of early NEON science, based on >100 existing publications, funded proposal efforts, and emergent science at the very first NEON Science Summit (hosted by Earth Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder in October 2019) is provided. Key questions that the ecology community will address with NEON data in the next 10 yr are outlined, from understanding drivers of biodiversity across spatial and temporal scales to defining complex feedback mechanisms in human–environmental systems. Last, the essential elements needed to engage and support a diverse and inclusive NEON user community are highlighted: training resources and tools that are openly available, funding for broad community engagement initiatives, and a mechanism to share and advertise those opportunities. NEON users require both the skills to work with NEON data and the ecological or environmental science domain knowledge to understand and interpret them. This paper synthesizes early directions in the community’s use of NEON data, and opportunities for the next 10 yr of NEON operations in emergent science themes, open science best practices, education and training, and community building.

     
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