Ecological Forecasting Initiative 2020: Coordinating the NEON-enabled forecasting challenge

Host: NSF-sponsored EFI-Research Coordination Network and NEON.

Dates: May 12-13, 2020

Location: Due to COVID-19 the workshop was held virtually

Workshop Agenda

Click Here to View Videos from the EFI-RCN 2020 Workshop

A Graduate Student Virtual Workshop was held on May 11.
Details are here.

We are excited to announce the first annual meeting of the Ecological Forecasting Initiative Research Coordination Network (EFI-RCN), an NSF-sponsored 5-year project. The overarching goal of the EFI-RCN is to grow and diversify the community of practice engaged in near-term iterative ecological forecasting, with a special focus on creating forecasts with data from the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON;

This meeting is in lieu of a previously scheduled in-person meeting at NEON headquarters in Boulder, CO. We are excited that the move to a virtual workshop removes space constraints and allows us to open up the workshop to all who are interested in participating.  

The workshop format will be a mix of talks and breakout sessions focused on forecasting with NEON data, engaging partners in NEON enabled forecasts, and designing a forecasting challenge using NEON data. It will be an interactive meeting and all workshop participants should be willing to engage and participate in breakout discussions.

We will meet virtually on Zoom from 11am-5:30pm Eastern Daylight Time (GMT-4) on Tuesday, May 12 and 11am-3:30pm Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday, May 13. 

Accessibility: The pre-recorded workshop presentations will have closed captioning.  We are working to get captioners for the in-person and breakout portions of the workshop.  If you anticipate needing closed captioning during the live-portions of the workshop, please contact us at

The talks and panel discussions will focus on the supply side of forecasting (i.e., data products), the demand side of forecasting (partners for forecasts), and lessons learned from other forecasting challenges. This workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to work together to design a forecasting challenge, similar in format to a data science competition, that stimulates ecological forecasting using NEON data products to enable intercomparison and synthesis. The workshop will focus on developing NEON forecasts for terrestrial carbon dynamics (e.g., flux tower and inventory data), water quality (e.g., temperature, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll), and ecological populations/communities (e.g., ticks, mosquitoes, birds, community structure).  

The workshop objectives are to:

  • Identify specific NEON data products to be used in the forecasting challenge. 
  • Present and discuss standards for archiving ecological forecasts for submission to the challenge. 
  • Develop a road map for a NEON forecasting challenge (evaluation, rules, etc.)
  • Identify cyberinfrastructure, training, and software training opportunities to empower participation in the challenge.
  • Identify partnerships with stakeholders and forecast end-users that can leverage NEON-enabled forecasting for decision support.

This is a great opportunity to engage with the Ecological Forecasting Initiative without needing to travel to a meeting and we look forward to using this virtual opportunity to grow the community of ecological forecasting!

We envision the key products from the meeting will include manuscripts describing the “rules” of the forecasting challenge, including a description of the community standards, and a roadmap for forecasting using NEON data.

EFI-RCN is a part of the grassroots Ecological Forecasting Initiative ( While this May 2020 meeting is focused on accomplishing the RCN’s NEON-focused objectives, we envision EFI having a much larger, all-hands conference in summer 2021. If you have questions, please contact