• the National Phenology Network2 (USA-NPN), designed to facilitate systematic collection and free dissemination of phenological data from across the United States to support research concerning interactions among plants, animals, and the lower atmosphere, especially the long-term impacts of climate change;

  • the Ocean Research Interactive Observatory Networks3 (ORION), designed to provide high-frequency, continuous time-series measurements in broad-scale spatial arrays needed to define the links among physical, biological, chemical, and geological variables in the oceans and provide spatially coherent data to study processes and enable modeling efforts;

  • the Ameri-Flux Network,4 designed to provide continuous observations of ecosystem-level exchanges of CO2, H2O, energy, and momentum spanning diurnal, synoptic, seasonal, and interannual timescales;

  • the proposed Integrated and Sustained Ocean Observing System5 (IOOS);

  • the International Global Ocean Observing System6 (GOOS); and

  • the Global Earth Observation System of Systems7 (GEOSS).

Observing systems alone cannot solve the puzzle of understanding multi-stress environmental problems, but they are a necessary component because they provide the data needed to characterize the environment and determine trends. There is a real need for careful attention to the systematic creation and validation of long-term, consistent climate data records (NRC, 2004a). The following paragraphs describe some of the other tools and strategies highlighted during the workshop.


Many participants advocated development of comprehensive regional frameworks for environmental studies as outlined during the workshop’s keynote address by Dr. Eric Barron. The vision Dr. Barron proposed included

  1. an integrated regional web of sensors that link existing observations into a coherent framework and enable new observations to be developed within an overall structure;

  2. an integrated and comprehensive regional information system accessible to a wide variety of researchers, operational systems, and stakeholders;

  3. directed process studies designed to examine specific phenomena through field study to address deficiencies in understanding;

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