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Introduction

The success of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) depends on the ability of the federal agencies to manage effectively unprecedented amounts of disparate and multi-disciplinary environmental data and information. In order to meet the data needs of the USGCRP, a data and information management system must be able to acquire global and regional environmental data, as well as document, process, archive, and distribute the data and data products. A new emphasis on assessment activities in the USGCRP will also require a close working relationship between global change researchers, federal program managers, educators, and policy-makers.

In 1991, the Interagency Working Group on Data Management for Global Change (IWGDMGC) created a framework for developing a data and information system. Their document, The U.S. Global Change Data and Information System Program Plan, was reviewed by the National Research Council's (NRC) Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data (CGED). In 1992, the IWGDMGC drafted a plan to implement the data and information system and again asked the CGED to play an advisory role. In response, the CGED organized a data forum that would allow active researchers to evaluate the document, The U.S. Global Change Data and Information System Implementation Plan (referred to hereafter as the Plan).

To manage the forum, the CGED established a steering committee consisting of Richard Hallgren, Christopher Potter, Peter Robinson, John



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1993 DATA FORUM: A Review of an Implementation Plan for U.S. Global Change Data and Information System 1 Introduction The success of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) depends on the ability of the federal agencies to manage effectively unprecedented amounts of disparate and multi-disciplinary environmental data and information. In order to meet the data needs of the USGCRP, a data and information management system must be able to acquire global and regional environmental data, as well as document, process, archive, and distribute the data and data products. A new emphasis on assessment activities in the USGCRP will also require a close working relationship between global change researchers, federal program managers, educators, and policy-makers. In 1991, the Interagency Working Group on Data Management for Global Change (IWGDMGC) created a framework for developing a data and information system. Their document, The U.S. Global Change Data and Information System Program Plan, was reviewed by the National Research Council's (NRC) Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data (CGED). In 1992, the IWGDMGC drafted a plan to implement the data and information system and again asked the CGED to play an advisory role. In response, the CGED organized a data forum that would allow active researchers to evaluate the document, The U.S. Global Change Data and Information System Implementation Plan (referred to hereafter as the Plan). To manage the forum, the CGED established a steering committee consisting of Richard Hallgren, Christopher Potter, Peter Robinson, John

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1993 DATA FORUM: A Review of an Implementation Plan for U.S. Global Change Data and Information System Townshend, Ferris Webster (chair), Bruce Wiersma, Tom Wigley, and Gary Yohe, with Les Meredith as ex-officio representative of the IWGDMGC and Anne Linn as the NRC Program Officer. Forum participants were selected to represent the major activity streams of the USGCRP. Participants included physical, biological and social scientists from universities and federal research laboratories, policy experts from non-governmental organizations, and representatives from federal agencies that administer global change programs. Researchers were nominated by NRC committees and the federal program managers were appointed by the IWGDMGC. Appendix D contains a list of the forum participants. The forum was structured to provide an opportunity for the research and user communities to interact with the authors of the Plan. A previous forum, as detailed in the CGED report, 1992 Data Forum: A Review of a Federal Plan for Managing Global Change Data and Information, provided the framework for this activity. Introductory presentations focused on the science goals of the USGCRP, and how the data and information system, as outlined in the Plan, would further those goals (Appendix C). The Global Change Data and Information System (GCDIS) is designed to build on the existing data center and agency infrastructure in order to provide the greatest flexibility to the users at the lowest possible cost to the participating agencies. Participants in the forum were asked to consider the Plan from two perspectives. In advance of the forum, nine individuals, representing several areas of global change research, prepared written critiques of the Plan. The individuals were asked to prepare 1-2 pages of bullets listing 1) the strengths and weaknesses of the Plan in meeting the data and information management needs of their discipline, and 2) the ways in which the Plan might be improved. The authors presented their critiques at the forum, and the animated discussions that followed provided immediate feedback to the authors of the Plan. The critiques are shown, as written, in Appendix A. Next, forum participants were divided into multi-disciplinary working groups in order to discuss how well the Plan addressed the data and information needs of the USGCRP. The working groups were based on the four themes of the USGCRP:

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1993 DATA FORUM: A Review of an Implementation Plan for U.S. Global Change Data and Information System Documenting global change Understanding key processes Predicting global change Assessing implications of global change. The four working group chairs presented summaries of their conclusions at a concluding plenary session of the forum. These summaries comprise the third chapter of this report. A number of concerns were common to all the working groups. These common concerns are summarized in the next chapter. Finally, after the forum, the IWGDMGC revised the Plan. A revised draft Plan was submitted to the forum steering committee, which prepared the brief postscript given as the fourth chapter of this report. The postscript outlines how well the IWGDMGC response addressed the concerns raised at the forum.