Capturing data during and after stochastic ecological events such as fires, floods and pest outbreaks can provide invaluable insights into how ecosystems respond.
To better understand these types of events and be able to monitor ecosystem performance for short- or medium-term monitoring projects, NEON has five Mobile Deployment Platforms (MDPs) that are available for data collection via the NEON Assignable Assets program. NEON’s ability to provide researchers with access to an MDP depends on whether any unit is available for use at a given time. As with NEON’s other Assignable Assets, the requesting research team is responsible for covering NEON’s costs associated with deploying, operating, and retrieving an MDP.
What is an MDP?
An MDP is a mobile sensor array designed for rapid transport and installation to gather meteorological, water, and soil measurements for short or medium-term monitoring programs. Each MDP is equipped with sensors that can collect meteorological data as well as soil and surface water measurements.
The MDP infrastructure consists of a Rohn25G tower that can be configured for various heights up to 100 feet, a mobile instrument support hut housed on a trailer, and a configurable array of atmospheric, aquatic and soil sensors. To power the MDP equipment, a given unit may be connected to an available electrical grid or powered by an independent generator. Each MDP unit is designed to fit on a trailer, making it easy to transport and quick to set up. The platforms are configurable with a variety of instruments similar to those used at NEON’s aquatic and terrestrial field sites.
Data Collection Capabilities
Each MDP collects automated measurements that are comparable to instrument data collected at NEON field sites. MDP sensors are calibrated in the NEON calibration and validation lab to collect continuous measurements of a variety of ecological variables, including:
- Meteorological: The main tower of each MDP can be configured with multiple boom arms to collect weather, climate and flux data.
- Soil: Soil sensors can be placed on the ground to capture soil flux measurements near the tower.
- Surface water: Automated surface water instruments can be networked to the instrument hut to collect surface water quality data (water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, specific conductivity, turbidity, fluorescence dissolved organic matter, chlorophyll a and nitrates).
How It Works
Each NEON MDP is equipped with instrumentation and data systems similar to the meteorological towers installed at NEON terrestrial sites. Research teams can also add their own instruments to an MDP. When a MDP is deployed into the field, it is maintained by a NEON science and engineering team for the duration of the campaign. The data collected by the MDP are processed by the NEON project and then delivered to the research team.
To get started, researchers must fill out and submit a request form. Once the form is received, NEON works with the requester to develop a cost estimate and deployment plan based on the requesters’ needs.
Requesting an MDP
MDPs may be requested through the NEON Assignable Asset Program, which allows researchers to request the use of NEON infrastructure to advance ecological research and environmental studies.
- All MDP requests undergo a feasibility evaluation by NEON project staff prior to approval.
- As with all of NEON’s Assignable Asset requests, the investigators are responsible for providing funding to cover costs associated with each campaign. Research teams often secure such support through grant programs administered by the National Science Foundation and other agencies.
- Review the important links below to get started with requesting an MDP deployment.