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  1. Ecological forecasting is an emerging approach to estimate the future state of an ecological system with uncertainty, allowing society to better manage ecosystem services. Ecological forecasting is a core mission of the U.S. National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and several federal agencies, yet, to date, forecasting training has focused on graduate students, representing a gap in undergraduate ecology curricula. In response, we developed a teaching module for the Macrosystems EDDIE (Environmental Data-Driven Inquiry and Exploration; MacrosystemsEDDIE.org) educational program to introduce ecological forecasting to undergraduate students through an interactive online tool built with R Shiny. To date, we have assessed this module, “Introduction to Ecological Forecasting,” at ten universities and two conference workshops with both undergraduate and graduate students (N = 136 total) and found that the module significantly increased undergraduate students’ ability to correctly define ecological forecasting terms and identify steps in the ecological forecasting cycle. Undergraduate and graduate students who completed the module showed increased familiarity with ecological forecasts and forecast uncertainty. These results suggest that integrating ecological forecasting into undergraduate ecology curricula will enhance students’ abilities to engage and understand complex ecological concepts.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  3. Near-term, ecological forecasting with iterative model refitting and uncertainty partitioning has great promise for improving our understanding of ecological processes and the predictive skill of ecological models, but to date has been infrequently applied to predict biogeochemical fluxes. Bubble fluxes of methane (CH 4 ) from aquatic sediments to the atmosphere (ebullition) dominate freshwater greenhouse gas emissions, but it remains unknown how best to make robust near-term CH 4 ebullition predictions using models. Near-term forecasting workflows have the potential to address several current challenges in predicting CH 4 ebullition rates, including: development of models that can be applied across time horizons and ecosystems, identification of the timescales for which predictions can provide useful information, and quantification of uncertainty in predictions. To assess the capacity of near-term, iterative forecasting workflows to improve ebullition rate predictions, we developed and tested a near-term, iterative forecasting workflow of CH 4 ebullition rates in a small eutrophic reservoir throughout one open-water period. The workflow included the repeated updating of a CH 4 ebullition forecast model over time with newly-collected data via iterative model refitting. We compared the CH 4 forecasts from our workflow to both alternative forecasts generated without iterative model refitting and a persistencemore »null model. Our forecasts with iterative model refitting estimated CH 4 ebullition rates up to 2 weeks into the future [RMSE at 1-week ahead = 0.53 and 0.48 log e (mg CH 4 m −2 d −1 ) at 2-week ahead horizons]. Forecasts with iterative model refitting outperformed forecasts without refitting and the persistence null model at both 1- and 2-week forecast horizons. Driver uncertainty and model process uncertainty contributed the most to total forecast uncertainty, suggesting that future workflow improvements should focus on improved mechanistic understanding of CH 4 models and drivers. Altogether, our study suggests that iterative forecasting improves week-to-week CH 4 ebullition predictions, provides insight into predictability of ebullition rates into the future, and identifies which sources of uncertainty are the most important contributors to the total uncertainty in CH 4 ebullition predictions.« less
  4. The management of drinking water quality is critical to public health and can benefit from techniques and technologies that support near real-time forecasting of lake and reservoir conditions. The cyberinfrastructure (CI) needed to support forecasting has to overcome multiple challenges, which include: 1) deploying sensors at the reservoir requires the CI to extend to the network’s edge and accommodate devices with constrained network and power; 2) different lakes need different sensor modalities, deployments, and calibrations; hence, the CI needs to be flexible and customizable to accommodate various deployments; and 3) the CI requires to be accessible and usable to various stakeholders (water managers, reservoir operators, and researchers) without barriers to entry. This paper describes the CI underlying FLARE (Forecasting Lake And Reservoir Ecosystems), a novel system co-designed in an interdisciplinary manner between CI and domain scientists to address the above challenges. FLARE integrates R packages that implement the core numerical forecasting (including lake process modeling and data assimilation) with containers, overlay virtual networks, object storage, versioned storage, and event-driven Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) serverless execution. It is a flexible forecasting system that can be deployed in different modalities, including the Manual Mode suitable for end-users’ personal computers and the Workflow Mode idealmore »for cloud deployment. The paper reports on experimental data and lessons learned from the operational deployment of FLARE in a drinking water supply (Falling Creek Reservoir in Vinton, Virginia, USA). Experiments with a FLARE deployment quantify its edge-to-cloud virtual network performance and serverless execution in OpenWhisk deployments on both XSEDE-Jetstream and the IBM Cloud Functions FaaS system.« less
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