Scientific challenge

Europe needs a distributed, highly integrated and widely used research infrastructure, comprising sites, research facilities, data, services and expertise, to support a wide range of ecosystem and critical zone research questions, such as: How are ecosystems and biodiversity changing or adapting to global-change stresses? What are the determinants of ecosystem resilience? What are the threshold interactions resulting in system shifts? How can we respond locally, nationally and internationally to support systems that are more resilient to global change effects? The primary building blocks for this infrastructure are Europe's existing network of Long-Term Ecosystem Research (LTER) sites and Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research (LTSER) platforms, as well as European Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs).

Project overview

eLTER H2020 is a major project that will help advance the development of European Long-Term Ecosystem Research (LTER) infrastructures. The overall aim of the project is to advance the European network of LTER sites and socio-ecological research platforms to provide highest quality services for multiple use of a distributed research infrastructure. To achieve this, the LTER-Europe network and the European Critical Zone Observatories (CZO) community collaborating in eLTER H2020. During the project, 162 sites in 22 countries will provide data on long-term trends in environmental change. Test cases using these data will address a range of environmental and social issues to push innovation in network level services and steer conceptual developments.

UKCEH was involved because it coordinates the UK's LTER network, the UK Environmental Change Network and operates several field research sites that are included in the eLTER project (Plynlimon CZO, Conwy, Whim BogAuchencorth Moss, CairngormMoor House and Wytham). We are providing data from these sites and inviting researchers to access some sites via Transnational Access scheme (see video below). We are also contributing our expertise in communications, data management and the development of tools and services for sharing and accessing long-term environmental datasets.

Whim Bog, Auchencorth Moss & Cairngorms - sites included in the eLTER Transnational Access scheme

eLTER H2020 ran from 2015-2019 and was funded by the European Union.


eLTER H2020 comprises the following components:

  • Four exemplary scientific use cases with increasing level of complexity to assess LTER data quality and services
  • IT architecture and tool development alongside the use cases
  • Detailed specification of eLTER design towards ESFRI, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures
  • Concerted data delivery of selected 162 LTER sites (Virtual Access)
  • Supported access to 18 top ecosystem research sites (Transnational Access)
  • Research infrastructure integration (nationally, Europe, globally).


Principal Investigator

Content creator supporting UKCEH's research activities through the production of graphics and websites. Dr Sier's work focusses on communicating research outputs and facilities with a broad range of stakeholders. This includes developing strategic approaches to communication and using graphic design, data visualisation, writing and editing skills to create a wide variety of communication materials, including websites, graphics, publications, leaflets and videos. 

I have over 40 years experience working on the science underpinning the conservation and restoration of landscapes in tropical, temperate and sub-arctic landscapes. My early career as a tree physiologist focused on the provision of trees in landscapes both for production and conservation purposes, but my later work has considered ecosystems more holistically.

John currently manages staff and projects in the UKCEH Environmental Data Science group to deliver environmental informatics research and development and the operation of the Terrestrial and Freshwater Science Data Centre (EIDC). He also works with international groups (RDA) and projects (LTER Europe) to develop trans-national data infrastructures and services.