EFI RCN NEON Ecological Forecast Challenge

Find a Full Description of the Challenge, Resources, and FAQ HERE
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The NSF funded EFI Research Coordination Network (EFI-RCN) is hosting a NEON Ecological Forecast Challenge with the goal to create a community of practice that builds capacity for ecological forecasting by leveraging NEON data products. The Challenge revolves around the five theme areas listed below that span aquatic and terrestrial systems, and population, community, and ecosystem processes across a broad range of ecoregions that uses data collected by NEON.

As a community, we are excited to learn more about the predictability of ecological processes by forecasting NEON data prior to its release.  What modeling frameworks, mechanistic processes, and statistical approaches best capture community, population, and ecosystem dynamics? These questions are answerable by a community generating a diverse array of forecasts.  The Challenge is open to any individual or team that wants to submit forecasts and includes categories for different career stages. Individuals or team contacts can register to submit forecasts HERE.

The design of the Challenge is the result of contributions of over 200 participants in the May 2020 virtual EFI-RCN meeting, including partner organizations, and the hard work from the Design Teams that have developed the protocols for each of the themes.

Computational resources are supported by NSF funded CyVerse, Jetstream, and XSEDE.

Here are videos from the December 9, 2020 AGU EFI Town Hall providing an overview of

  1. The Challenge
  2. The Challenge cyberinfrastructure
  3. The NEON data streams

Year 1 Challenge Themes

Aquatic Ecosystems

WHAT: Freshwater temperature and dissolved oxygen

WHERE: 1 lake and 1 river NEON sites. Click to expand the image in a new tab.

WHEN: Daily forecasts with a 7-day forecast horizon at the beginning of the month and submitted monthly from May 31-August 2021; later submissions after the May 31 start are permissible

WHY: Temperature and oxygen are critical for life in aquatic environments and can represent the health of the system

WHO: Open to any individual or team that registers

HOW: REGISTER your team and submit forecast

A full description of the Aquatics Challenge can be found HERE.
Terrestrial Carbon and Water Fluxes

WHAT: Net ecosystem exchange of CO2, evapotranspiration, and soil moisture

WHERE: 4 NEON sites that span a water stress gradient in the U.S. The images below show the flux tower at the center of each site.


WHEN: Half hour and/or daily forecasts for a 35 day period are submitted once per month January 31-December 31, 2021; later submissions after the January 31 start are permissible

WHY: Carbon and water cycling are foundational climate and water regulation services provided by ecosystems

WHO: Open to any individual or team that registers

HOW: REGISTER your team and submit forecast

We held a Q&A session on January 22, 2021. You can find a recording from that session HERE.

A full description of the Terrestrial Carbon and Water Fluxes Challenge can be found HERE.

Tick Populations

WHAT: Amblyomma americanum and Ixodes scapularis nymphal tick abundance per sampled area

WHERE: 22 plots at 7 NEON sites

WHEN: Weekly forecasts for 34 weeks into the future starting March 31-October 31, 2021 with training data available January 31, 2021. Forecasts are submitted monthly and later submissions after the March 31 start are permissible.

WHY: There is a correlation between tick population abundance and disease incidence, meaning forecasts for tick abundance have the potential to aid in our understanding of disease risk through time and space.

WHO: Open to any individual or team that registers

HOW: REGISTER your team and submit forecast

We held a Q&A session on March 24, 2021. You can find a recording from that session HERE.

A full description of the Ticks Populations Challenge can be found HERE.

Spring Phenology

WHAT: Terrestrial phenology defined by daily greenness of plants

WHERE: 8 deciduous broadleaf forest NEON sites in the continental U.S.

WHEN: Daily forecasts for 35-days in the future from February 1 - July 1, 2021 with a second round being run for the autumn. Forecast submissions are accepted daily, and later submissions after the February 1 start are permissible.

WHY: Phenology has been identified as one of the primary ecological fingerprints of global climate change.

WHO: Open to any individual or team that registers

HOW: REGISTER your team and submit forecast

We held a Q&A session on January 27, 2021. You can find a recording from that session HERE.

A full description of the Phenology Challenge can be found HERE.
Fall Phenology

WHAT: Terrestrial phenology defined by daily greenness and redness (fall colors) of plants

WHERE: 8 deciduous broadleaf forest NEON sites in the continental U.S.

WHEN: Daily forecasts for 35-days in the future from July 15 - December 31, 2021. Forecast submissions are accepted daily, and later submissions after the July 15 start are permissible.

WHY: Phenology has been identified as one of the primary ecological fingerprints of global climate change.

WHO: Open to any individual or team that registers

HOW: REGISTER your team and submit forecast

We held a Q&A session on January 27, 2021. You can find a recording from that session HERE.

A full description of the Autumn Phenology Challenge can be found HERE.
Beetle Communities

WHAT: Beetle abundance and species richness from the National Ecological Observatory Network

WHERE: 47 terrestrial NEON sites that span the diverse ecosystems of the U.S.

WHEN: Weekly forecasts for 20 months in the future starting June 30-December 31, 2021; later submissions after the June 30 start are permissible

WHY: Improve understanding of habitat quality, conservation potential, land-use sustainability, and biodiversity change in response to global change and ecological disturbances

WHO: Open to any individual or team that registers

HOW: REGISTER your team and submit forecast

A full description of the Beetle Communities Challenge can be found HERE.
Forecasts submitted for each theme and their evaluation scores can be viewed on this dashboard.

Instructions for Submitting Forecasts and Forecast Evaluation Details HERE

Overview of Cyberinfrastructure used in the Challenge

Video Resources

These videos provide a) an overview of why we need forecasts and why we are using NEON data, b) describes Forecasting Challenges in general, and c) provides an overview of the draft Ecological Forecast Standards that the EFI Cyberinfrastructure, Methods & Tools, and Theory Working Groups have developed. The Standards are still in beta testing, but you can find details on this GitHub repo which summarizes the proposed standards.

Overview of the EFI-RCN, Why Forecasting is Important, and Why Use NEON Products
General Description of Forecasting Challenges
Draft of the Forecasting Standards
Playlist of Videos Describing the NEON Data Products