Collecting Climate Change Data in the Field

Since 1957, the Student Conservation Association (SCA) has been at the forefront of preserving our national parks and forests, with the knowledge that these natural “lungs” act as a critical cooling and cleaning mechanism for our planet, pulling carbon dioxide from the air while releasing oxygen. But in recent years, SCA has expanded beyond preservation work, partnering with other organizations to work more directly on the problem of climate change—the overriding environmental issue of our time.

In its quest to address climate change and increase student engagement in this issue, SCA recently launched a partnership with the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) to contribute to a massive, new climate change database for the Americas.

Equipped with a network of 81 field sites across the United States and slated to add even more, NEON is an ambitious 30-year program designed to gather and synthesize data on the effects of climate change, land-use change, and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity. From aircraft surveillance to field-deployed sensors, NEON engages in a wide range of practices to collect data—but there is still no substitute for on-the-ground field sampling. And this is where SCA interns are playing play a vital role.

By partnering with organizations such as NEON, SCA is actively advancing its commitment to engaging a new generation of conservation leaders in tackling climate change. The combination of on-the-ground and laboratory work complements interns’ classroom learning, providing hands-on experience that will be needed to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

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