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LTER Key Research Findings

Among the many research results from LTER sites, some findings stand out as being particularly important to achieve the LTER goal of providing information to conserve, protect, and manage the nation's ecosystems. Short descriptions of key findings at each site emphasize the importance of long-term data in understanding the pace and pattern of ecological change.

Real World Solutions (NTL LTER)
Some of the most pressing ecological issues are global in nature. Highly valued ecosystem services, such as those provided by lakes and reservoirs, will come increasingly under stress in the future. Studying lake ecosystems at the continental, or even global scale requires a broadly distributed network of sites that can leverage local knowledge, data, and expertise toward the goal of...
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Tracking Ice Cover (NTL LTER)
The annual timing of the formation and disappearance of ice in aquatic systems represents a valuable proxy for climate change and provides an early warning for potential responses that may occur within these ecosystems. The strength as a climate proxy includes the broad spatial distribution and regional, continental, and global abundance of sites, the annual resolution of the data, data records...
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Carbon Storage (NTL LTER)
Scientists studying the global carbon cycle have primarily focused on quantifying storage and fluxes of the ocean and the terrestrial landscape, often to the exclusion of wetlands, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. One of the first hints that aquatic systems may play a larger than expected role in regional and global-scale carbon dynamics was the observation of CO2 supersaturation in a world-wide...
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Lakes In The Landscape (NTL LTER)
NTL researchers developed the concept of "lake landscape position" -- how a lake's location within the larger landscape provides a basis for understanding lake characteristics and dynamics. Lakes can receive water from precipitation, surface runoff (streams and rivers) and groundwater. In general, lakes higher in the landscape (i.e., at greater elevations) receive a larger percentage of their...
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Science, Scenarios and Surprise (NTL LTER)
Ecological forecasting and long-term ecological research are synergistic. Long-term data are essential for calibrating models, and forecasts are hypotheses to be tested by long-term research. Existing models are limited in scope. Generally they provide predictions of biological, biogeochemical or physical trajectories of ecosystems, given specified inputs including human actions....
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Managing Water Quality in a Changing World (NTL LTER)
Eutrophication, the over-enrichment of lakes and rivers with nutrients, causes toxic algae blooms, deoxygenation, foul odors, fish kills, and heavy economic losses to communities that depend on clean water for drinking, industrial use, or recreation. The fix-up sounds simple: stop adding nutrients to the water. However, lakes and rivers are embedded in complex systems of people and nature,...
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