their current and future data management activities. These principles and guidelines are based on a variety of sources: the large body of previous work described in Chapter 2; NOAA’s legal and administrative mandates; the data archiving and access requirements demanded by NOAA’s mission objectives; information and feedback received from NOAA, its agency partners, and its data users regarding current and planned data management activities; and the knowledge and collective experience of the members of this committee.
PRINCIPLE #1: Environmental data should be archived and made accessible.
The environmental data (including model output, derived products, and other information) collected by NOAA and its partners are an invaluable resource that should be archived and made accessible in a form that allows a diverse group of users to conduct analyses and generate products necessary to describe, understand, and predict changes in the Earth’s environment. Full and open access to data should be a fundamental tenet of all US federal agencies, including NOAA.
NOAA’s mission is “to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our nation’s economic, social and environmental needs.” Since the Earth and its environment represent a complex, interconnected biogeochemical system, describing the current state of the system or its variability over time requires a large number of observations, and predicting its future behavior often demands the use of models built around a detailed understanding of various system components. Thus, any observational data stream, model output array, or other environmental data set that contributes to the description, understanding, or prediction of the Earth system (including derived products) should, in principle, be archived by NOAA. Likewise, in order to realize the full benefits of Earth system measurements, analyses, and predictions, these data should be made accessible to the broadest possible range of users in a form that allows them to make informed economic, social, and environmental decisions.
Although “save all environmental data and disseminate it to all possible users” is a worthwhile goal for a data archival and access system, a number of practical considerations make this goal impossible to fully achieve. First among these is the reality of limited resources, which places restrictions on the volume and quality of data that can be archived, the ability to make these data accessible to a wide range of users, and the number of personnel dedicated to ensuring reliable data stewardship. Normally, cost-benefit analysis would be a powerful tool for identifying the most appropriate way to allocate limited resources and prioritize data