6
Data and Information Management

Efficient archiving and dissemination of data is critical to any long-term research program. Careful, early attention to data management can ensure that the data collected are truly useful in capturing trends and illustrating changes in the system over time. The Long-Term Ecological Research sites supported by the National Science Foundation again provide models of how to organize and manage long-term ecological data sets. The GEM program must include a strong commitment to data and information management. To extract the full scientific value of GEM, data and information must be made available to the scientific community, resource managers, policy makers and the public on a timely basis. Data management must be designed to facilitate data exchange among GEM scientific investigators, make data available to the public and outside scientific community, and archive the data products.

The success of GEM will be critically dependent on establishing some kind of Data Management Office, which would be staffed with a data manager and others as needed to organize, disseminate, and archive the data. The data manager would participate in the planning of the sampling program, organizing the data, assuring data quality, archiving the data and providing data to the principal investigator and public. There should be a Data Management Subcommittee to help provide periodic outside advice on data policies; the data management system; preservation of data with relevant documentation and metadata; advice on enforcement of data policies; and to facilitate exchange of data with related oceanographic programs. Both data managers and scientists should serve on the Data Management Subcommittee to facilitate the interaction of sci-



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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska 6 Data and Information Management Efficient archiving and dissemination of data is critical to any long-term research program. Careful, early attention to data management can ensure that the data collected are truly useful in capturing trends and illustrating changes in the system over time. The Long-Term Ecological Research sites supported by the National Science Foundation again provide models of how to organize and manage long-term ecological data sets. The GEM program must include a strong commitment to data and information management. To extract the full scientific value of GEM, data and information must be made available to the scientific community, resource managers, policy makers and the public on a timely basis. Data management must be designed to facilitate data exchange among GEM scientific investigators, make data available to the public and outside scientific community, and archive the data products. The success of GEM will be critically dependent on establishing some kind of Data Management Office, which would be staffed with a data manager and others as needed to organize, disseminate, and archive the data. The data manager would participate in the planning of the sampling program, organizing the data, assuring data quality, archiving the data and providing data to the principal investigator and public. There should be a Data Management Subcommittee to help provide periodic outside advice on data policies; the data management system; preservation of data with relevant documentation and metadata; advice on enforcement of data policies; and to facilitate exchange of data with related oceanographic programs. Both data managers and scientists should serve on the Data Management Subcommittee to facilitate the interaction of sci-

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska entists with the data management staff so that data management policies and procedures are in tune with the scientific focus of GEM. These groups would develop a data policy that establishes the rules for submitting data and models; facilitates quality control of the data by the data management office; ensures that the data are properly archived; ensures the rights of the scientific investigators; promotes the exchange of data between investigators; and ultimately, makes the data available to the general public and outside scientific community. These data management policies are followed by large scientific oceanographic programs such as the Joint Global Ocean Flux program (<usjgofs.whoi.edu>), Global Ecosystem Dynamics (<globec.oce.orst.edu/groups/nep>), and the Coastal Ocean Processes program (<www.skio.peachnet.edu/coop>). GEM needs to be committed to the timely submission and sharing of all data collected by its researchers. In accepting support each principal investigator should be obligated to meet the requirements of the GEM data policy. These should include submitting collected data in the established format within set periods from collection. Investigators should be encouraged to exchange data and models with other GEM scientists to promote integration and synthesis. Data management must have sufficient resources to accomplish its necessary functions in support of the GEM program. According to recent reviews, some of the most successful coastal monitoring efforts allocate as much as 20 percent of their total budget toward data management (Sustainable Biosphere Initiative, 1996; Weisberg et al., 2000). To be successful GEM will need to make a similar financial commitment to data management. A program such as GEM with a long commitment to observations of ecosystem processes will be viewed regionally, nationally, and internationally for leadership in data management. A body of data exists for the Gulf of Alaska to which GEM investigators will need ready access. One of the first tasks of the Data Management Office should be to install this relevant data into the GEM database. Examples of pertinent ancillary data sets are NOAA’s Tropical Atmosphere-Ocean El Niño Southern Oscillation data, Pacific Decadal Oscillation estimates, the Gulf of Alaska Global Ecosystem Dynamics program, and historical regional oceanographic and climate data. Another example is the North Pacific Marine Science Organization’s Technical Committee on Data Exchange Website that contains links to long-term, interdisciplinary data sets for the North Pacific. These data archives will be essential to ecosystem modeling and synthesis in the GEM program. Also essential to the initial planning of the GEM program will be data collected in the past decade with Exxon Valdez oil spill funding. These data need to be synthesized to guide the selection of the sampling sites and measured parameters of the GEM coastal time-series observations. These data must also be

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A Century of Ecosystem Science: Planning Long-Term Research in the Gulf of Alaska made available to collaborating scientists, scientists outside the program, the public, and resource managers. The policy of such federal agencies as the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration is that two years after collection, data should be available to the general public and scientific community through the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC). Data collected by the GEM program should be submitted to the NODC in addition to being made available to the public through the GEM Website or similar structures. The general description of the data management architecture in the draft GEM science plan is very good. The data management functions of data receipt, quality control, storage and maintenance, archiving, and retrieval are recognized and adequately addressed. The report recognizes that different types of data products will be needed for basic research and analysis, modeling, resource management applications, and public outreach. Access to the data archives and software display will be an important public outreach component. There would be multiple levels of complexity to the data access ranging from users with limited backgrounds with these data to use by the investigators who gathered the data. One of our chief concerns is the importance of having clear, established data policy and a willingness to enforce it. One of the first tasks of the GEM Data Management Subcommittee should be to establish a data policy to which all investigators must adhere and to help GEM set up the structure of the Data Management Office. It was apparent in reviewing the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Website that it was difficult or impossible to retrieve data collected from past research projects. This trend must change if the GEM program hopes to realize its potential for understanding the Gulf of Alaska ecosystem. Data collected should be easily retrieved by various user groups, as is the case for programs such as the Joint Global Ocean Flux Experiment (<www.usjgofs.whoi.edu>), Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics Experiment (<globec.whoi.eduandglobec.oce.orst.edu>), or, more generally, the data available from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (<http://nsidc.org/index.html>). The Data Management Office must have sufficient staff and infrastructure support for receipt, quality control, archiving, and retrieval of data products required by its upser groups.