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.