Our mission is to be the international leader in generating and disseminating new knowledge about the ecology of the aerosphere and people’s changing perceptions and interactions with this environment. To achieve our mission we focus on three intertwined objectives:
1. Expand our existing strength in basic radar aeroecology by specifically focusing on establishing leadership in a suite of biologging technologies.
2. Become a leader in social science of the aerosphere.
3. Expand the reach of our training portfolio in aeroecology, data science, and science communication.
We are at the cusp of a transition in human history from an empty sky era to a crowded sky era that parallels the transition that occurred in our oceans 50 years ago. We routinely use land surface maps of increasing urbanization as a gauge of the progress of human development and its environmental impacts. We rarely even consider the amount, or impact, of human incursion into the lower atmosphere (aka aerosphere). Land use planning and water management are standard, yet the notion of planning development of the aerosphere never occurs to us – or seems unnecessary if it does – because we assume the sky is inexhaustible. Oda’s (1962) observation about the world’s oceans applies to our skies today. The facts no longer support our preconception of an inexhaustible aerosphere. The question is how will we use this resource and how will we protect the valuable environmental processes it provides to us and to a vast
array of plant and animal biodiversity.
It is now commonplace for new technologies and devices to require access to, or infrastructure in, the atmosphere. We are increasingly dependent upon cell phones, airlines, and unmanned aerial vehicles for commerce, communication, defense, and transportation. There are also mounting conflicts among industries that require access to the aerosphere and those concerned with conserving the quality of aerial environments and the organisms that live there. As we begin to realize and accept that we have entered the era of a crowded sky, we anticipate increasing demand for data-driven approaches to its management. To meet this need, we propose an integrated interdisciplinary approach to collecting, analyzing, and interpreting new data streams to inform societal decisions about managing the aerosphere. These data need to describe the aerosphere, document its biodiversity, and delineate our shared natural resources.