ECN uses common measurement protocols to quantify how the physical, chemical and biological status of ecosystems is responding to a variety of long-term stressors. Some measurements are unique to ECN - eg intensive soil surveys and soil solution monitoring. Sites are protected from short-term disturbance to maximise signal-to-noise ratios in environmental data. All measurements are taken in close proximity to allow: direct association between potential drivers and responses; identification of previously un-recognised relationships; testing of modelling assumptions; calibration of new models.
ECN was established in 1992, when partners expected it would take three decades of monitoring before environmental trends associated with drivers such as climate change and air pollution began to be revealed. Initially comprised eight terrestrial sites (two operated by CEH) then four more sites joined the network during 1993-1996 (including Cairngorm, operated by CEH). One site (Drayton) dropped out in 2015. As a contributor to UK, European and global Long-Term Environmental Research (LTER) Networks, there is currently no envisaged end date for the ECN Observatory. ECN partners are considering how to secure funding to “upgrade” the network within a more spatially extensive framework of sites operating to common protocols - potentially supported by NERC Scientific Support & Facilities funding.
ECN is the only long-term Long-Term Environmental Research Network in the UK. No other UK observatory provides a 30+ year record of environmental change - to track ecosystem change and understand the causes and consequences - through a UK-wide network of sites operating common protocols where each site delivers a broad range of high frequency and co-located physical, chemical and biological measurements.
ECN is coordinated by UKCEH for a consortium of site operators including: UKCEH; James Hutton Institute; Rothamsted Research; Forest Research; Natural Resources Wales; Dstl; Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Northern Ireland. All operators contribute to the ECN Steering Committee that also includes: Defra; Scottish Government; Welsh Government; Natural England; Scottish Natural Heritage.
ECN data are freely available from the data.gov website, and measurement protocols are regularly published. ECN sites are available for use by other research organisations: initial enquiries via UKCEH Lancaster.
The ECN Central Coordination Unit and data management are located at UKCEH Lancaster. ECN operates eleven field measurement sites, distributed across the UK, of which three sites are managed by UKCEH: Cairngorm National Park (Scotland); Moor House (North Pennines); Wytham (Oxfordshire).
The UKCEH coordination and contribution to ECN is primarily funded through UKRI-NERC National Capability LTSS: UK-SCaPE programme.
Defra policy and regulation: climate change risk assessments; Bicco-Net and other climate projects; Report on Transboundary Air Pollution in the UK; UK APIENS air quality impacts; Naural England monitoring programmes
UK university researchers, currently: Leeds; Durham; Manchester; Lancaster; Northumbria; York; Oxford; Reading; Edinburgh
UK long-term monitoring programmes: UK Eutrophying and Acidifying Pollutants Network (UKEAP: precipitation; NO2; ammonia); Rothamsted Insect Survey (moths); Butterfly Monitoring Scheme; UK-COSMOS (soil moisture)
ECN is the official UK network contributing to international Long Term Environment Research (LTER Europe; I-LTER) and European Infrastructure for Long Term Ecosystem Assessment (eLTER).
28 April 2022 12:58