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6. Agency Implementation

Programmatic Guidance and Milestones

The milestones that were listed in the program plan include USGCRP high-level programmatic milestones to implement the global change data and information management program and a four-phase implementation of the GCDIS. These milestones provide a general framework for the program implementation plan.

1991-1995

1996-2000

2001-2010

2011-2020

Overall Schedule Goals

The overall schedule goals follow from the priorities just outlined and from the milestones presented in the program plan. This presumes formal approval by the agencies of the program implementation plan by January 1, 1994. These are goals only; the ability of the agencies to meet these goals will be limited by mission and budget constraints. Agency-by-agency implementation milestones presented in the functional area subsections that follow represent what the agencies find possible to accomplish within known mission and budget constraints.

The schedule goals will be presented as a set of near-term interagency implementation activities followed by a description of GCDIS phases. The phases represent checkpoint snapshots of GCDIS at 5-year intervals starting with 1995.

Near-Term Interagency Implementation Activities

These are near-term, first-year (1994) activities that are needed to lay essential groundwork for progressive implementation of GCDIS functionality. These activities will be coordinated by the Content and Access Subgroups and their teams. These 1st-year efforts, once completed, will provide the basis for a major update to this program implementation plan in January 1995.

GCDIS Phase I - Checkpoint 1995

GCDIS Phase II - Checkpoint 2000

Agency Implementation

The agencies will establish version alpha of the GCDIS consisting of their components of the GCDIS that will be available on April 1, 1994. Version alpha will be the base on which the GCDIS will grow and evolve. Agency summaries of their portions of version alpha follow. The version alpha components for each agency and the additional components that will be part of the GCDIS by April 1 of 1995 and 1996 are listed in Appendix B. Because of the evolving nature of the USGCRP and of the GCDIS, detailed projections beyond 1996 have not been given - they will be included in future updates of this implementation plan.

Department of Commerce

NOAA is the primary agency within the Department of Commerce (DOC) for GCDIS participation as both supplier and user of climate and global change data and information products. Other DOC agencies will participate in the GCDIS as their roles are better defined and as the system evolves. For example, the U.S. Bureau of the Census, through its Center for International Research, has initiated global-change, data-related, collaborative activities with the CIESIN. The Census Bureau is also attempting to increase public awareness of and use of its own data through the development of its own Internet site and other online electronic collaboration with appropriate parties.

NOAA's three National Data Centers, and the NOAA Satellite Active Archive, the NOAA Directory Services, the NOAA Library, and the NOAA Network Information Center (NIC) are agency components that will participate in GCDIS operations. As the GCDIS evolves, NOAA, through its NOAA-wide Data System Modernization, will add additional capabilities and improved interoperability for the GCDIS user community. NOAA's Data System Modernization is now in the planning stage; system implementation is expected to start in 1995 and continue through at least 2004.

Department of Defense

The DOD routinely collects environmental data globally in support of DOD operations. The DOD also conducts mission-related research into environmental processes and conditions that affect defense operations, tactics, and systems. The DOD does not have a mission requirement to archive data for civil uses. DOD data products are made available to the appropriate U.S. national archives for subsequent use by the GCDIS.

Department of Energy

The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program is a DOE- sponsored, global-change-research effort designed to improve the modeling of cloud radiative forcing in general circulation models. The primary user community for ARM data is the atmospheric research community; secondary users are the broader scientific community that has interest in some of the meteorological or radiative measurements that the ARM can provide.

The ARM Archive receives and manages a broad variety of data, such as

This information comes from a variety of sources within the ARM project and from several external sources. The primary data source is the ARM Cloud and Radiative Testbed (CART), which will consist of three highly instrumented sites located worldwide. The first site, centered close to Lamont, Oklahoma, has been taking data since June 1992. Data fusion products and data quality measurement products are generated at the ARM experiment center using data from the CART sites and observations from external sources such as satellites. Information about instruments, data quality, and instrument operations comes from instrument developers, instrument mentors, site operations staff, and scientists.

Department of the Interior

As the major Federal land manager and the primary Federal agency responsible for managing the Nation's natural ecosystems, fish and wildlife, and energy and water resources, the Department of the Interior (DOI) is particularly concerned about the potential short- and long-term effects of climate and other environmental change on these lands and resources. The DOI's global change research is addressing topics such as hydrologic and geologic processes and resources, land use, land cover, biological habitats, resources, and diversity; past global change recorded in the physical, chemical, and biological record; land surface and solid Earth processes that relate to environmental change; geography and cartography; polar and arid region processes; ecosystem modeling and dynamics; and resource ethnology.

The DOI bureaus collect, maintain, analyze, and interpret short- and long-term land, water, air, biological, and other natural resource data and information in support of their missions. These efforts have always included maintenance of high-quality, long-term data sets, including cartographic, land cover, geologic, hydrologic, ecological, and biological data from both satellite- and aircraft-based remote sensing and terrestrial-based observations. The DOI will provide access to directory-level descriptions of these data (and inventory- level information where feasible) through DOI and interagency directories and clearinghouse mechanisms such as the National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse. The USGS Global Land Information System (GLIS) will be one of the primary inventory-level interfaces with the GCDIS and an access point to DOI global change data. The DOI also participates in the NASA Earth Observing System (EOS) program through the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) at the USGS Earth Resources Observations Systems (EROS) Data Center (EDC), where capabilities are being developed to process, archive, and provide online information system access to EOS land- related data sets, such as those from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS).

Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA has the primary responsibility for data on environmental quality and the distribution and effects of pollutants on human and ecological health. As such, it is both a supplier and consumer of information on the environment, with a large potential for beneficial interchange with the GCDIS that goes well beyond its current role in the USGCRP.

Data and information for most of EPA's programs are stored centrally at the EPA National Computer Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The EPA Information Systems Inventory and Access EPA are key documents that are available in both hard-copy and electronic versions describing the agency's holdings. The EPA is attempting to increase public access to its holdings through the development of an Envirofacts data base, GCDIS-compatible access tools, and a public access server at Research Triangle Park.

Data and information from the focused portion of the USGCRP (such as the North American Landscape Characterization data set) will initially be made available through arrangements with other GCDIS archives. Contributing data and information from EPA's regulatory and scientific programs, not derived from the USGCRP activities, will be incorporated into the Envirofacts data base as funding becomes available and requirements are known from the USGCRP.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA provides access to Earth science data through several discipline-specific data centers and data systems. Most of these can be accessed automatically from the GCMD. These centers and systems provide various levels of service for data processing, distribution, and archiving. The numerous disciplines supported include climate, oceanography, land science, hydrology, biogeochemical dynamics, sea ice, geophysics, atmospheric dynamics, radiation budget, and human dimensions.

Researchers may access most of the systems through the Internet and dial-up lines, or they may visit hard-copy browse facilities. Data are delivered electronically or on standard media, such as 9-track magnetic tapes, 8-mm cartridges, or CD-ROMs. System capabilities allow users to search, locate, select, and order products. Searches usually can be limited by geographic area, time, or geophysical parameter. Electronic access is generally free to research users, but a fee may be charged to cover the marginal cost of filling the requests.

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsors a large and diverse research community that both uses and produces global change data and information. Although the NSF has no formal responsibilities for archiving and distributing data and information, it supports a major facility for meteorological, oceanographic, and climatology data sets at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. By and large, however, NSF-supported scientists rely on other Federal agencies for much of their data and information needs and, when appropriate, for archiving and disseminating the research products they produce.

The NSF expects its supported investigators to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the data, samples, physical collections, and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of the research project. Presently, the enforcement of this requirement varies considerably across the agency. For example, social and behavioral data sets are deposited in an archive for distribution within a year after the completion of a grant. Other discipline divisions at the NSF have no formal policies. The NSF will implement, in collaboration with other GCDIS agencies, a process by which important global change data sets produced with NSF support will be archived, managed, and disseminated for broad community use. Deciding which products are appropriate for this treatment and how the activity will be funded will involve a multilateral process among the research principal investigators, the sponsoring agency program manger, and the appropriate data center and its sponsoring agency. A general rule of thumb for funding responsibility is that the agency program manager should support those activities that are required for the research project itself, and the data center should support those that are required to serve the broader community needs.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has initiated several new projects to support the need to make global-change-related data and information readily available to its various user communities. This inventory includes special information required to define spatial data and models and the particular data sets required for operation of the models. Data bases inventoried are being categorized as weather data (e.g., temperature, precipitation), atmospheric data (trace gases, deposition), soils data, forest data, plant and vegetation data, animal data, pest data, hydrologic data, economic data, and more. An automated locator and directory system to house the inventory metadata is being made and soon is expected to be interoperable with the GCMD and other servers, such as the WAIS servers installed at other Federal locations.

The National Agricultural Library will continue in its major role in identifying, cataloging, and providing access to worldwide published information related to global change issues. The Current Research Information System will be available through the Internet and commercial information distribution systems, and will provide information on the status of research projects funded by the Cooperative State Research Service of the USDA.

The Evolution of the GCDIS

It is abundantly clear that the GCDIS must be built so that it can evolve. This need is driven by a number of factors. First, the USGCRP program, which the GCDIS serves, is even now changing in terms not only of its scope of research, but in terms of the relative priorities of individual research areas and of the increasing importance of assessments that have policy relevance. For example, the USGCRP focus has recently been expanded from that of climate change to also include stratospheric ozone depletion, biological diversity, forests, and desertification. Such changes will continue as the USGCRP itself evolves.

Second, from the time when data management was barely an afterthought for many programs and projects, its importance has rapidly grown in nearly all areas of endeavor. This very growth, coupled with the broad scope of the USGCRP, means that the GCDIS must evolve to stay compatible with developments in a wide range of fields over which it has almost no control. Examples are Federal geographic standards development, government information locator systems, library search-and-retrieval standards, international systems, health- and other human-dimension-related data base developments.

Third, the technology which the GCDIS will have to use to meet its users' needs is rapidly changing. This change is increasingly in response to economic imperatives and technical needs largely outside the USGCRP. Examples include developments in such major areas as high-performance computing, data superhighways, and commercial communications and cable systems.

To be able to evolve as necessary, the GCDIS will do the following:

As an example of evolution in the program, assessments and policy questions will increasingly require data and information from the biological, social, and economic sciences. These biological and human dimension data sets will largely result from investigations funded externally to the USGCRP. They will range from process research results to operational modeling and monitoring and will represent basic science, as well as regulatory and resource management information. Considerable local as well as Federal data and information are anticipated. As the GCDIS evolves, it will be increasingly challenged to develop the necessary infrastructure (both technical and political) to access and use these disparate data and information in USGCRP assessments.

Initially, elements of socioeconomic data will be held in the Socioeconomic Data Center (SEDAC) funded through the EOSDIS. The SEDAC will be part of the EOSDIS network, and its data and information will be available through the EOSDIS. In addition to the data and information that the SEDAC will hold directly, an Information Cooperative has been organized by CIESIN to arrange for access to data and information held by institutions throughout the world. The SEDAC will also provide pointers to these relevant data sets. This follows the general GCDIS model of a responsible data center for a particular type of information and a uniform policy for data distribution and charging.

In addition to the SEDAC and CIESIN Information Cooperative, USGCRP member agencies will directly provide important biological and socioeconomic data and information, of appropriate granularity, through their individual implementations of the GCDIS. For example, programs such as the EPA Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program, the DOI Biological Survey, and the NOAA Coastwatch will develop important data and information on biological resources that will have applicability to USGCRP analyses. Including these data and information in the GCDIS will proceed in an evolutionary manner.

These programs are typical of many Federal and State programs outside the USGCRP that have data needed by the USGCRP. Being outside, many have very limited funding for making such data available for USGCRP use and also may require such special administrative arrangements as memoranda of understanding. The need for developing GCDIS access to such data sets that were not developed by the USGCRP itself is identified as a special issue in Appendix A.


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