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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