Stimulus and response – the end of an ARRA

The LNO closed out an award from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on September 30, 2013, bringing to an end a series of activities that benefitted, and continue to benefit, the LTER Network in a variety of ways. Synthesis activities included support for annual Science Council meetings, research working groups, research objectives of the LTER Decadal Plan, and training workshops. ARRA funding supported services to the LTER Network such as management of Network databases, basic cyberinfrastructure support, and development of the Network Information System. NSF invested $6.7 million in these activities over a four-year period. The LNO will continue to carry out some of these activities, such as the Science Council meeting and management of Network databases, through its core operations.

ARRA funding allowed the LTER Network to advance the pace of synthesis across sites by providing support directly to both grass roots and Network research efforts and through the development of the Network Information System. During 2013, the LNO received 65 requests for support for research and training projects, mostly following up on activities during the 2012 LTER All Scientists meeting. The Executive Board chose four post-doctoral projects, 14 research synthesis projects involving over 229 participants, and four training projects with 85 participants for support. Summaries of all working group efforts and products are posted on the LTER Intranet and are updated as new products are submitted: (http://intranet2.lternet.edu/working-groups). The LNO also continues to track results and products from more than 60 previous synthesis efforts.

ARRA funding also allowed additional effort focused on the early completion and implementation of PASTA, a key element of the Network Information System. The initial implementation of PASTA has ushered in a new era where the products of LTER research can be published, protected, showcased, and easily accessed by all. PASTA performs a series of checks (32 so far) on data submitted by sites, which results in improvements in the quality of data available through the LTER Data Portal. Additional activities supported by ARRA funding have bolstered LTER sites’ abilities to keep pace with the accelerated PASTA implementation schedule. Sites adopting DEIMS or the Data Toolbox approaches are producing clean, consistent PASTA-ready EML as a functional part of their project data lifecycle. Properly described spatial data in the PASTA repository are being automatically incorporated into the GeoNIS spatial data engine. Information managers that have had questions or difficulties in this process have had a designated support person to help them over local hurdles towards meeting the Network’s data publication goals.