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APPENDIX B

Data Sets Survey

RESPONSES TO THE COMMITTEE'S SURVEY

To gather input from the polar science community, the committee developed a questionnaire1 on the strengths and weaknesses in the current data system (the questionnaire follows at the end of this appendix). Scientists were asked to characterize their research in terms of scientific and regional foci. This was followed by a list of polar geophysical data sets from NASA and non-NASA sources that respondents could mark if they used them in their research. The final four questions dealt with satisfaction issues.

The committee received 109 responses from a variety of university, governmental, and private industry institutions. Foreign respondents numbered 22. The number of scientists who identified their research focus as exclusively Arctic was 48, exclusively Antarctic 20, and global 41. The latter category generally denoted those with both Arctic and Antarctic interests (there were few responses from those who study more temperate regions).

Although the survey provided six categories of research focus, a large number of respondents chose “other.” Many of these would have marked


1 Although the survey provided useful information, it should not be considered a statistically rigorous study. Its availability was widely announced, but participants were self-selected. The information was used in a general way to help the committee form its conclusions and recommendations.



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Page 111 APPENDIX B Data Sets Survey RESPONSES TO THE COMMITTEE'S SURVEY To gather input from the polar science community, the committee developed a questionnaire1 on the strengths and weaknesses in the current data system (the questionnaire follows at the end of this appendix). Scientists were asked to characterize their research in terms of scientific and regional foci. This was followed by a list of polar geophysical data sets from NASA and non-NASA sources that respondents could mark if they used them in their research. The final four questions dealt with satisfaction issues. The committee received 109 responses from a variety of university, governmental, and private industry institutions. Foreign respondents numbered 22. The number of scientists who identified their research focus as exclusively Arctic was 48, exclusively Antarctic 20, and global 41. The latter category generally denoted those with both Arctic and Antarctic interests (there were few responses from those who study more temperate regions). Although the survey provided six categories of research focus, a large number of respondents chose “other.” Many of these would have marked 1 Although the survey provided useful information, it should not be considered a statistically rigorous study. Its availability was widely announced, but participants were self-selected. The information was used in a general way to help the committee form its conclusions and recommendations.

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Page 112 more than one research category, if that option had been allowed. Others were in categories that were not listed (e.g., hydrology). The committee's response was to create several new research focus categories that better reflect the disciplines of most respondents who marked “other.” Multiple choices were also allowed. The resulting breakdown of research foci in Table B-1. “Sea ice or ocean” researchers were the most frequent respondents, more than double the next category. “Ice sheets or sea level” researchers were the second most frequent respondents. These category names are somewhat misleading, however, since very few oceanographers responded to this survey. This begs the question, “Where do high latitude oceanographers seek support?” The answer is in a variety of global and other programs. This may serve to enhance cross-latitude oceanography at NASA, but it also limits cross-disciplinary research in the polar community. An example of this situation is the lack of coherent surface-temperature data sets that include open water and other surfaces (i.e., ice, snow, land). Table B-2 shows the breakdown of “types of research data sets used” by the survey respondents, broken down by whether they use only NASA data sets or some combination of data supplied by NASA and others. These two lists are fairly similar, perhaps showing that NASA is generally TABLE B-1 Areas of Primary Research Focus as Indicated by Survey Respondents Research Focus Number of Respondents Sea ice/ocean 41 Ice sheets/sea level 20 Terrestrial—physics, hydrology, and land-atmosphere linkages 13 Terrestrial—biology and biogeochemistry 9 Terrestrial—physical and biology 4 Other 6 Atmospheric circulation, planetary boundary layers, climate, and upper air studies 3 Clouds/radiation 3 Sea ice/oceans, atmospheric circulation etc. 3 Sea ice/oceans and terrestrial—biology 2 Glaciers 2 Snow cover 2 Sea ice/oceans and terrestrial—physics 1 TOTAL 109

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Page 113 TABLE B-2 Types of Data Most Commonly Used by Survey Respondents NASA and Non-NASA   NASA Only   Types of Data Number of Respondents Types of Data Number of Respondents Atmospheric 185 Sea Ice 81 Sea Ice 131 Atmospheric 51 Radiance and Backscatter 82 Radiance and Backscatter 37 Imagery (Visible and IR) 78 Imagery (Visible and IR) 24 Ice Sheet 63 Vegetation 15 Snow Cover 56 Ocean 16 Ocean 48 Ice Sheet 14 Vegetation 38 Snow Cover 13 Glaciers 21 Glacier 11 Hydrology 18 Hydrology 7 responding equitably to data needs by discipline, although there are some specific gaps and deficiencies to be discussed elsewhere in this report. Also note that the frequency of research foci ( Table B-1) is not in general the same as the frequency of data sets used ( Table B-2). For example, one of the most frequently used type of data is atmospheric, although relatively few respondents identified themselves as meteorologists. This shows how some types of data sets can easily cross disciplines. It may also identify the potential underuse of data, for example, by global-scale atmospheric scientist). Turning to the final four questions, the respondents were generally positive about the current data system. The ASF and especially the NSIDC were complimented on the quality of their service. NSIDC was singled out for its simple, easy-to-use Web site, and for its willingness to provide data by Internet before a final CD was published. About 25 percent of the respondents had negative comments. These fell into two broad categories: inadequate publication of available data sets and difficulty of access or use of data sets. Those who were simply unaware of existing data sets were more frequently (but not exclusively) new to the field or from more isolated institutional environments; however, even experienced researchers had problems. Some of these problems could be relieved by more extensive linking of data set Web sites. Several responses were from heavy users of the NSDIC and the ASF who did not know that these were DAACs. Perhaps the heavy reliance on acronyms and other NASA jargon can discourage and thus limit usage of data sets.

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Page 114 In the survey responses, it appeared that a broad spectrum of users (including DAAC employees) experienced data access problems. Even experienced researchers noted some difficulty with the formatting of data. Insufficient documentation of individual data sets was also noted as a problem by some survey respondents, in regards to time and space resolution, data format, and sensor information. Similar concern was expressed about insufficient overview guidance for DAAC holdings, which is standard information that typically should appear on or near the main home page. Recommendations for NASA data set providers to help improve the utility of existing data sets are included in Chapter 5. Opportunities for improvement lie in the areas of links to other related data sites, outreach to more aggressively publicize activities and holdings, improvements in access through better documentation, and opportunities for community feedback and information exchange, such as via Web bulletin boards.

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Page 115 QUESTIONNAIRE Under the auspices of The National Academies' Polar Research Board and at the request of NASA, a committee is reviewing the strategy, scope, and quality of existing polar geophysical data-sets and suggesting ways to improve future products. The committee's charge and a list of its members can be seen here. As part of this effort, the committee is seeking input from scientists who use these types of data-sets, whether those produced by NASA or others with similar purposes. The committee will keep your comments confidential, so we appreciate your frankness in describing the strengths and weaknesses of current data-sets and dissemination strategies. Name: Affiliation: Brief description of your research (1-2 Sentences): 1. Which of the following scales best describes your research: Arctic Antarctic Global 2. Which of the following areas best describes the focus of your research: Sea Ice/Oceans Ice Sheets/Sea Level Clouds/Radiation Terrestrial—Biology and Biogeochemistry Related Terrestrial—Physics and Land-Atmosphere Linkages Other—please specify: 3. What NASA geophysical data-sets and products relevant to polar regions do you use in your research and for what purposes? What other geophysical data-sets (e.g., global, international, or other U.S. sources) do you use and for what purposes? Please mark the following checklist and note the specific products you use in the text boxes provided.

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Page 116 Sea Ice Concentration NASA Other What specific product? Ice Type NASA Other What specific product? Ice Motion NASA Other What specific product? Other NASA Other What specific product? Snow Cover Areal Average NASA Other What specific product? Water Equivalent NASA Other What specific product? Albedo NASA Other What specific product? Other NASA Other What specific product?

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Page 117 Ice Sheet Elevation (Altimeter data) NASA Other What specific product? Surface Meteorology NASA Other What specific product? Ice Core Data NASA Other What specific product? Other NASA Other What specific product? Glacier Data NASA Other What specific product? Atmospheric Data Cloudiness NASA Other What specific product? Radiative Fluxes NASA Other What specific product? Surface Temperature NASA Other What specific product?

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Page 118 Precipitation NASA Other What specific product? Temperature Profiles NASA Other What specific product? Moisture Profiles NASA Other What specific product? Other NASA Other What specific product? Ocean Data SST NASA Other What specific product? Color NASA Other What specific product? Other NASA Other What specific product? Hydrology Streamflow/Runoff NASA Other What specific product?

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Page 119 Soil Moisture NASA Other What specific product? Vegetation Data Vegetation Classification NASA Other What specific product? Indicies of Biomass NASA Other What specific product? Indicies of Absorbed Radiation NASA Other What specific product? Albedo NASA Other What specific product? Other NASA Other What specific product? Miscellaneous (other uses) Microwave Radiances NASA Other What specific product? Radar Backscatter (SAR or Altimetry) NASA Other What specific product?

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Page 120 Visible Satellite Imagery NASA Other What specific product? IR Satellite Imagery NASA Other What specific product? 4. If you are not using NASA data-sets or don't find these useful, please explain why: 5. If you do use NASA data-sets, how do you judge the quality of the data and the ease of access for obtaining the data? Please note any specific problems you've encountered or suggestions for improvements. 6. Is there a data-set you wish was available? If so, please describe briefly and why it would be useful to your work. 7. Do you now or have you in the past used a Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) to obtain data? If yes, please note whether request for and receipt of data was satisfactory or if you have suggestions for improvements. If not, why not?