Database progress

Last week, we bid farewell to Amber, a bittersweet goodbye that marks the end of a successful chapter in our ‘SoilTemp’ project. Yet it also provides closure to a very good story, as you’ll see.

Amber joined us as a master’s student and wrote an outstanding thesis on the air conditioning effect of nature in gardens, in the framework of our ‘CurieuzeNeuzen’ citizen science project. She then joined us part-time as a database manager for the SoilTemp database, and our achievements together during that time were nothing short of fabulous.

So how did we get Amber on board? After getting a few grant rejections, I sent out a tweet in desperation, warning the community that our planned work with SoilTemp was in jeopardy. But as fate would have it, the community rallied around us! GEO Mountains, an initiative focused on global environmental monitoring in mountains, for example, offered a concrete solution that resulted in this part-time job for Amber. Our main goals were two-fold: to make significant strides towards open access publication of the SoilTemp database and to increase its coverage in mountain regions worldwide, particularly in those hard-to-reach areas where even weather stations are scarce.

Sensor installed in my own favourite cold-climate mountain region in the northern Scandes, where it monitors birch forest understory temperature in a dense field of Empetrum and Vaccinium heathland

Amber sailed through the backlog of data submissions like a database diva and reprocessed all 35,000 time series in a format that will allow them to be entered into our upcoming relational database. The latter is being accomplished together with Rémy from iDiv (Germany), another epic story for another day. And our second goal? A mountain of success. We equipped a whole lot of regions participating in the Mountain Invasion Research Network (MIREN) with sensors, and we’re seeing increasing monitoring in many cold-climate mountains, tropical mountains, and especially African regions. The large white gaps on our map are shrinking fast!

So, thanks Amber, and thanks GEO-Mountains, we definitely made the best of it!

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