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Keywords:

  • Shannon entropy;
  • information theory;
  • Earth observatories

The geosciences are increasingly utilizing a systems approach to quantify spatial and temporal dynamics among multiple subsystems, their couplings, and their feedbacks. This systems approach demands novel strategies for experimentation and observation in the “natural laboratory” rather than in simple controlled experiments and thus relies heavily on Earth system observations and observation networks. Current and forthcoming examples of Earth system observatories include the Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs), the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), EarthScope, FLUXNET, National Water Information System/National Water-Quality Assessment (NWIS/NAWQA), and others. These networks are designed to observe complex processes across a wide range of temporal and spatial scales to synthesize scientific understanding of the fundamental interactions across the interfaces of society, hydrology, ecology, atmospheric sciences, and geosciences.