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Summary Degradation of our nation's water resources threatens the health of humans and the functioning of natural ecosystems. To better understand the causes of these adverse impacts and how they might be more effectively mitigated, especially in urban and human-stressed aquatic systems, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has proposed the establishment of a Collaborative Large- scale Engineering Analysis Network for Environmental Research (CLEANER) to: provide an efficient, common platform for near real-time and conventional observation, data storage, data distribution, data analysis and modeling of large- scale environmental and hydrologic systems, including urban and human- stressed systems; improve our understanding and prediction of hydrologic, environmental, engineering, and ecological processes controlling these systems over a range of spatial and temporal scales; elucidate human-induced impacts on the environment; and identify more effective adaptive-management approaches to mitigate adverse impacts of human activities on water and land resources. As part of the development of the CLEANER science plan, the NSF sought the advice of the National Research Council (NRC) on the "grand challenges" to be addressed by the network, especially those related to water, and on the value of observatory networks in general. In response to the NSF's request, the NRC's Water Science and Technology Board assembled a committee having expertise in a broad set of relevant disciplines to carry out the tasks shown in Box S-1. CLEANER AND THE OBSERVATORY APPROACH The justification for a CLEANER environmental observatory network derives from our current inability to sufficiently understand large-scale environmental processes and thereby develop more effective management strategies. First, we lack basic data and the infrastructure required to collect these data at needed temporal and spatial resolutions. Second, even with such data, further research is needed in data integration across scales from different media and sources (observation sensors, laboratory experiments, model simulations). Third, because of the lack of long-term, large-scale integrated data we lack a sufficient understanding of many underlying processes that take place over various space and time scales. The collection and analysis of such data should make it possible to better understand environmental processes that operate over large spatial scales or for long time periods and to determine how those processes affect humans and how humans affect those processes. This in turn should result in the development of more accurate models and decision support systems for predicting the effects of different management strategies on society and water resources. 1

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2 CLEANER and NSF's Environmental Observatories BOX S-1 Statement of Task A committee formed by the Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB) will advise the National Science Foundation on its Collaborative Large-Scale Engineering Analysis Network for Environmental Research (CLEANER) initiative with respect to (1) the science plan and (2) the potential usefulness of the program. Regarding the science plan, the WSTB will identify some (5-6) of the major issues in the area of water quality and water resources that present "grand challenges" and that lend themselves to being addressed by CLEANER, i.e., perhaps providing the targets for observation and modeling efforts. Regarding the second issue, the WSTB will comment on the overall value to engineering and other potentially interested disciplines of networked environmental observatory facilities to improve our understanding of complicated, large-scale water quality and water resources problems and the development of cost-effective engineering approaches to their solution. The scope of issues to be considered by the WSTB will be limited to water quality and water resources; i.e., air will only be considered to the extent that it affects water. Note that for purposes of this study, a "grand challenge" is defined to mean a major scientific and/or technological task that is compelling for both intellectual and practical reasons, that offers potential major breakthroughs on the basis of recent developments in science and technology, and that is likely to be feasible given current capabilities and a serious infusion of resources. Some examples of the types of investigations these environmental observatory networks should make possible include: 1. how and the extent to which ecosystem processes contribute to the human economy; 2. the influence of water quality and quantity on ecosystem structure and function and, in turn, on engineering requirements and environmental decision making; 3. the effects of climate change on the characteristics of aquatic systems; 4. the ways in which human economic activities, including urbanization, affect hydrologic processes and ecosystems; 5. the changes in types, amounts, and impacts of pollutants on the quality of our environment and on ecosystem functioning and human health; 6. how land and water use changes in response to both physical and social conditions; and 7. the propensity of global climate change to propagate waterborne diseases.

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Summary 3 Many of these investigations will motivate and facilitate needed research on how to better integrate and use social, physical, chemical, and biological data within predictive models. Finally, the results from these and other data collection and research activities could serve to substantially upgrade our environmental science and engineering educational and outreach programs. This would benefit current environmental protection and management programs, the public, and the next generation of scientist and engineers. These potential outcomes and contributions are the rationale for CLEANER. GRAND WATER CHALLENGES AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS To meet its potential, CLEANER must be planned and designed to address a variety of "grand challenges" in environmental sciences and engineering. The committee believes that the grand challenges presented in Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences (NRC, 2001) are sound. Therefore, rather than identifying additional challenges, the committee presents research questions and issues that stem from these existing challenges and that address complex water- related problems requiring an observatory approach. These research questions and issues are grouped into three categories that are detailed below. The first category includes questions that address interactions among humans, the environment, and ecosystems to advance knowledge of phenomena and processes. The second category includes questions to understand and provide innovative engineering approaches that can improve water quantity and quality management to sustain a healthy economy. The third category includes research issues related to the design of CLEANER observatories and the development of tools and technologies that will make possible the collection of long-term data over large scales that are necessary to address the scientific questions and issues. Interactions among Humans, the Environment, and Ecosystems The research should aim to: better understand biogeochemical cycling in river and estuarine systems and how the cycles are influenced by human activities. Using continuous measurement technologies for measuring flow and solutes, processes in perturbed systems that cycle, for example, carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, can be understood in detail, evolving patterns of change can be detected, and strategies can be developed to mitigate adverse human impacts from urbanization and agricultural practices. determine the extent to which humans can alter their environment and its ecosystems while still sustaining desired levels of ecosystem function.

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4 CLEANER and NSF's Environmental Observatories Large-scale environmental observatories can identify just how far humans can alter water regimes and landscapes before recovery cannot be economically achieved. learn how changes in climate, land cover, and land use affect water quantity and quality regimes and their impact on ecosystem health and other uses of water such as for drinking, irrigation, industry, and recreation. Using long-term data, comparative studies, modeling, and experiments, observatory systems can determine pathways of movement of water and solutes through human-dominated landscapes and forecast responses to changes. Innovative Engineering Approaches for Improving Water Quantity and Quality Management The research should aim to: improve our capabilities in hydrologic forecasting for water resource managers to evaluate and make decisions. Networks of sensors, robotic water quality monitoring sites, real-time data collection, and communication links can be developed into an intelligent environmental control system that will enhance the protection of urban ecosystems and the health and safety of its inhabitants. Such a system can be used as an early warning system and to identify emerging problems such as flooding, lack of water, riparian habitat degradation, and the presence of toxic compounds. find solutions to existing and emerging problems involving contaminants in the environment that affect ecosystems and human health. Some environmental problems that affect water resources are of such a magnitude that they are of national concern and require engineering research based on data collected through observatories. Two such problems are the containment or removal of contaminated sediments and the effects on aquatic and human health of residuals from pharmaceuticals and other household products. Design of CLEANER's Environmental Observatories Recommended research concerns the: use, deployment, and evaluation of multiple types of sensors for collecting comprehensive and integrated environmental data over large spatial and long temporal scales; development of the components of a robust and adaptable cyberinfrastructure that can link to other databases; and

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Summary 5 collection and use of social science data along with physical, chemical, and biological data needed to address environmental problems caused by human activities. IMPLEMENTING ENVIRONMENTAL OBSERVATORIES Planning and development activities are underway by the NSF for a series of national environmental observatory systems in the United States.1 For example, the observatories considered by CLEANER will be focused on hydrologic and environmental science and engineering research issues. The observatories considered by NEON are focused on ecological research issues. These and other NSF environmental observatory networks each have somewhat different goals and missions, but there is also considerable overlap in terms of scope and components of research and outreach activities. Cooperation and collaboration among these different observatories should be beneficial to all research communities. There are also other governmental (federal, state, local) environmental assessment programs that would supplement those of CLEANER. These programs are typically closely linked to the mission of the agencies. Just as it is important for CLEANER to be well integrated into the other applicable NSF environmental observatories, it also should be closely collaborating with the various federal, regional, state, and local monitoring and environmental assessment activities as well. To facilitate and improve linkages between CLEANER and existing governmental programs, inter-agency agreements and periodic workshops and other joint activities and interactions may be critical for successful long-term coordination and collaboration. CLEANER is in a unique position to catalyze linkages between the national science-based observing systems and governmental environmental assessment efforts. If properly coordinated and managed, CLEANER could add considerable value to ongoing government efforts through data management and the application of models and other analysis tools. In turn, through proper coordination and linkages with other more science-based observatories, CLEANER can focus its resources more on the important engineering and underlying science issues that are of national significance. 1 These networks include CLEANER, the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Incorporated (CUAHSI) Hydrologic Observatories, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), the Geosciences Network (GEON), the Ocean Observatory Initiative (OOI), and the Arctic Observing Network. In late 2004, NSF merged CLEANER and the CUAHSI Hydrologic Observatories into a single initiative called the Water Environmental Research Systems (WATERS) Network. Because the details of this merged activity were not fully resolved during the committee's study period, the report generally refers to the activity as "CLEANER," though the report recommendations should be relevant and useful to the developing WATERS Network.

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6 CLEANER and NSF's Environmental Observatories CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The committee supports the concept of CLEANER and recommends that the NSF proceed with its planning, implementation, and intra- and interagency coordination activities. These activities should include the consideration by the NSF of an overarching parent organization that could be termed the "Environmental Observatory Networks" or EON. This parent organization could be responsible for cyberinfrastructure development, educational activities, outreach, and other shared activities across the NSF environmental observatory programs. EON would facilitate collaboration and coordination among the NSF observatory programs; the collection, management, and distribution of integrated data of value to all NSF programs; and reduce observatory program redundancy and costs. The NSF should also seriously evaluate the potential pitfalls of environmental observatory networks that might negate their many potential economic and scientific benefits. Some of these potential pitfalls or "fatal flaws" are lack of sufficient funding, especially that needed to maintain and upgrade the observatories; software security failures; inadequate planning of research projects; inadequate observatory geographical coverage; and inability to recruit and train engineers and scientists with the interdisciplinary breadth to address the future research challenges of CLEANER. The consideration of these possible scenarios can help identify and prevent potential "surprises" that could reduce the value of environmental observatories. Long-term integrated data derived from CLEANER's network should support fundamental engineering research and education on environmental problems in large-scale, human-stressed environments and ecosystems. An environmental observatory network has the potential to, and thus we believe should, transform the environmental science and engineering profession and its contributions to society. A successful environmental science and engineering observatory should: 1. serve as a center of excellence in the development of new measurement capability and of new methods for data analyses; 2. integrate measurements over different scales of space and time and ensure the constancy and quality of measurements; 3. provide and support a robust data environment that facilitates the assessment of basic processes and principles and the development of new theory; 4. provide a test bed for generating new applications including enhanced modeling and forecasting capabilities that support adaptive management decision-making; and 5. motivate the transformation of environmental science and its relationship with other sciences.

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Summary 7 The development and implementation of CLEANER and other national environmental observatories presents an opportunity to recruit and train new generations of engineers and scientists in near real-time observation science and its application to management of water and other environmental resources. CLEANER should foster collaboration of engineers, scientists, government researchers, resource managers, policy makers, and community groups working across disciplines, across temporal and spatial scales, across different types of landscape surfaces and subsurfaces, and across watersheds/airsheds in different climatic regions. It should provide researchers and water resource managers with access to linked environmental sensing networks, data repositories, and computational tools for integrated assessment modeling, all connected through high performance computing and telecommunication networks. As a result of this collaboration, CLEANER should provide adaptive approaches for evaluating and forecasting regional environmental impacts, accounting for biological, chemical, physical, and human influences. The CLEANER network of data sets should be available to all researchers with permission from those who collected them. Data should be widely available and able to be shared among the research community. Open standards and data sharing can be critical to the ultimate success and long term success of CLEANER. The use of uniform data storage and centralized data repositories is a central challenge and opportunity for the program. CLEANER's integrated data sets, some of them available in near real- time, obtained from various remote and in situ sensors should facilitate the development of improved, process-oriented models that can be refined continually as new observatory data become available. This invaluable feedback loop should continually improve our understanding of processes in perturbed aquatic ecosystems. CLEANER observatory programs should span a range of increasingly human impacted regions including those having a fresh/marine water interface. A comprehensive network of sensors deployed in these contrasting regions is likely to shed new light on controlling and adaptively managing physical, chemical, biological, and geological processes. The program should identify vital sign indicators based on an understanding of current system conditions and expected trends and use these indicators for early warning and long-term predictions.