PalEON Project Goals
PalEON (the PaleoEcological Observatory Network) is an interdisciplinary team of paleoecologists, ecological statisticians, and ecosystem modelers. Our goal is to reconstruct forest composition, fire regime, and climate in forests across the northeastern US and Alaska over the past 2000 years and then use this to drive and validate terrestrial ecosystem models. We will develop a coherent spatiotemporal inference framework to quantify trends and extreme events in paleoecological and paleoclimatic time series. Variables such as forest composition, fire regime, and moisture balance will be inferred from corresponding paleoecological proxies, with rigorous estimates of uncertainty.

These datasets will be applied to improve terrestrial ecosystem models in two contexts. First, we are developing specific data products, such as high- resolution settlement-era forest composition maps from witness tree and General Land Office data, that can be used to drive ecosystem models. PalEON will develop formal data assimilation tools that will allow the models we use to forecast on centennial scales to be informed by decadal- to centennial-scale data. Second, are developing data products for the purpose of model validation (e.g. fire-frequency reconstructions from sedimentary charcoal data). These long-term validation datasets will help us assess the ability of these models to capture past dynamics correctly, and will help us understand why their future projections are so divergent.

Click below for more details about the individual components of PalEON.

Paleo DataStatisticsModels