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7. International Links and Coordination

Initially, GCDIS links and access to international data holders, providers, and users will be accomplished through existing agency participation in the ICSU WDC system. A number of U.S. data centers associated with implementation of the GCDIS currently have responsibility under the WDC system for a broad range of important climate and global change data. All GCDIS archive sites will pursue WDC status through the ICSU or be linked with existing WDCs. The links for exchanging and transferring global change data and information among WDCs vary from magnetic tapes and cartridges and CD-ROMs to data communications networks.

GCDIS international links among WDCs will be completed or supplemented by other media or networks to transfer Earth observation data and information from satellite and in situ sources for other operational or noncommercial uses that benefit the public. Those existing and emerging international systems, services, and their coordinating mechanisms are described in subsequent sections. Expanding links to other international organizations and programs concerned with global change data management will be useful in several ways to implementation of the GCDIS.

First, links to data centers and archives outside the United States will be necessary to access data relevant to the USGCRP and to make U.S. data and information available to collaborating researchers and governments abroad. To be useful, these must be permanent archives, so that the data will be readily accessible to users well into the future. This is particularly true for global change data, inasmuch as assessment of change and the mechanisms responsible for it must rely on long time series that are irreproducible. Archives for global change data must therefore be maintained on a long-term basis, irrespective of the changing interests of the scientist, group, or even agency that collected and analyzed the observations. Several existing internationally sponsored data management and archive systems, to be described briefly later, have the long-term commitment needed to serve as global change archives.

Second, many of these international institutions are associated with an agency or university group that undertakes research using such data and are therefore more than just data libraries. The personnel associated with such centers perform the highly useful function of using the data themselves, and therefore perform quality assessment and ensure good documentation of the data. Such centers are in good position to seek out actively and acquire data that are needed for global change research, but that may not be supplied to the archive as a matter of course.

Third, timely international agreement regarding standards, protocols, and formats for new types of global change data and information will facilitate access and exchange of global and regional data sets and research information. Several existing international technical forums for developing such agreement are described later in this chapter.

Fourth, agreement on the part of international partners - particularly governments - will be necessary to overcome policy-related impediments to full and open exchange of data and information. Intergovernmental organizations provide a useful forum for discussion and agreement among governments on data management and exchange principles, policies, and practice.

Major impediments to the full and open exchange and distribution of international data for global change research include

It should be noted that the international community is beginning to recognize the need for consistent policies for international data exchange. Several international organizations, including the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the IGBP, and the CEOS, have formally adopted policy statements consistent with the principle of full and open exchange of scientific data and information. Although not binding on member countries, they constitute a first step toward establishing an international norm. The United States has adopted a similar policy - the U.S. Data Policy Statements for Global Change Research (see Table 1).

Existing International Data and Information Systems and Services

Some of the existing systems that may serve as GCDIS archives or that may in other ways be part of the data and information dissemination system needed for global change research will be described.

The ICSU World Data Center System

The ICSU WDCs were originally organized for the International Geophysical Year (1957-58) and, upon recommendation of the ICSU, have continued since as a network linking data providers to data users around the world. This system is operated by volunteering national organizations on agreed principles and policies contained in the ICSU's Guide to the World Data Center System. All the WDCs are staffed, funded, and maintained exclusively by the countries in which they are located. The four main activities of the WDCs involve acquisition, exchange, dissemination, and archiving of solar- geophysical and related environmental data and information. As already noted, the WDC system will provide the initial GCDIS mechanism for international access.

The WDC system now consists of 44 archive and data centers in several countries: The United States, Russia, China, Czechoslovakia, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Denmark, Japan, and India. WDC-A is hosted by the United States, and is sponsored by NASA, NOAA, the USGS, and the U.S. Naval Observatory. Oversight is provided by the NAS CGED, which maintains at the NAS the WDC-A Coordination Office. The individual U.S. centers are organized and funded by the parent agencies, but the NAS CGED is the information/organizational channel that connects the WDC-A system to ICSU's supervisory/advisory group, the Panel on World Data Centers.

In the United States, USGCRP agencies now operate 12 WDC-As for glaciology (snow and ice), marine geology and geophysics, meteorology, oceanography, rockets and satellites, rotation of the Earth, seismology, solar-terrestrial physics, solid Earth geophysics, paleoclimatology, land cover, and atmospheric trace gases. All of these WDC-As are collocated with national disciplinary data centers throughout the United States. The WDC-As will provide a fundamental GCDIS mechanism for international access and data exchange among corresponding WDCs in other parts of the world.

One of the weaknesses of the ICSU WDC system is that there are no specific recommendations for archiving and exchange of satellite- based data that are essential for global change studies. Whereas some of the conventional data centers (e.g., oceanography, meteorology, snow and ice, the new center for remotely sensed land data) do receive and archive data products derived from satellite observations, the present configuration may not meet all needs of the GCDIS. However, the present system (WDC-A) maintains links with satellite data systems inasmuch as three of the WDC-A centers are in agencies or groups that also house NASA EOS DAACs, namely the USGS EDC in Sioux Falls, the DOE's CDIAC in Oak Ridge, and the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder. To further expand the connection between WDC-A and satellite data systems, further discussions are underway with NASA regarding four additional DAAC-related data centers at the Goddard, Langley, and Marshall Space Flight Centers, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The World Meteorological Organization Data System

Under the aegis of the WMO, several countries operate data centers closely related to the WCRP and IGBP-Global Change: The World Ozone Center at Toronto; the Global River Runoff Data Center at Koblenz, Germany; the WDC for GHG, Tokyo; and the Global Precipitation Center, Germany. A less active center that is being revived for WCRP and global change studies, and integrated again into the WMO system, is the International Radiation Center in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission's (IOC) International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange system (IODE) consists of about 45 National Oceanographic Data Centers as well as seven specialized data centers for specific ocean observing systems and techniques. The three ICSU WDC's for oceanography, located in the United States, Russia, and China, form the apex of this pyramidal system, serving as the final archive and distribution centers for oceanographic data products once they have been processed and quality assessed through the other parts of the IODE system. The successful merging of the IOC and ICSU data center systems for oceanography may serve as a useful model for establishing relationships between the GCDIS and the ISCU WDC system.

The Federation of Astronomical and Geophysical Services

This ICSU system, sponsored by the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics and the International Union of Radio Science, is also an outgrowth of the International Geophysical Year. The Federation of Astronomical and Geophysical Services centers that relate directly to the GCDIS are the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level in the United Kingdom, the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Switzerland, and the Sunspot Index Data Center in Belgium.

Other Data Services

There may be other independent geophysical data services, but most of them relate to solid-Earth, upper-atmosphere, or space disciplines that have indirect relation to global change studies.

International Mechanisms for Planning, Coordinating, and Implementing

The International Geosphere-Biosphere Program and the IGBP- DIS

The IGBP, established by the ICSU, is designed to achieve an understanding of Earth and its environment, to improve our ability to detect global change and plan intelligent responses. Previous ICSU programs (concerning the lithosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, magnetosphere, and ionosphere, for example) have successfully studied components of the Earth system. The intent of the IGBP is to work toward realizing a synthesis on a global scale of how these individual components interact to produce the dynamics of the whole Earth system, with the goal of predicting the future state of the planet into the next century.

In addition to the ICSU WDC's, which either act as archive and distribution centers, or which produce special data products for research, there is another ICSU data activity important to the evolution of the GCDIS. Detailed planning for IGBP data management has started under the Working Group on Data and Information Systems for the IGBP (IGBP-DIS). Based in Paris and supported by NASA and the French Ministry of Sciences, its overall goal is to improve the supply and management of data and information that will allow the IGBP to satisfy its agenda.

The IGBP-DIS has been most successful as the focal point for IGBP Core Projects, to identify data needs, to build specifications for missing or presently inadequate data sets, to conduct IGBP data workshops, and to serve as an information link between such services as the GCMD and the user community. Four initial projects involving data or metadata have been identified in advance of the specification of data needs by Core Projects:

These pilot projects have proved to be very useful. For example, as an adjunct to the Land-Cover Change Pilot Project, the IGBP-DIS was instrumental in defining the needs and specifications for the AVHRR 1-km global pilot data set now being implemented by the USGS, NASA, and NOAA. A CD-ROM containing results from the 1st year will be issued during 1993. The IGBP-DIS also is sponsoring an investigation of the possibility of obtaining useful land surface temperature data from satellite observations, and was the initial sponsor of the IGBP African Diskette Pilot Projects, the successful implementation of which resulted in the NOAA-EPA Global Ecosystem Database (on CD-ROMs) and the African Diskette Educational Project. Additionally, a new global soils data base has been started.

USGCRP agencies operating WDC-As have begun to participate in the IGBP-DIS diskette pilot projects. Those agencies' GCDIS plans need to be modified to include producing and disseminating space-based and in situ regional and global data sets on diskettes or other media to facilitate international access to global change research data and information.

The Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Programme

The HDP, established in 1990 under the auspices of the ISSC (the social-science counterpart to the ICSU) is initiating an international program of research to address the human dimensions of global environmental change. The HDP is defining its program, analyzing data and information system requirements, and initiating focused projects.

Seven broad topical areas of research have been identified: social dimensions of resource use; perception and assessment of global environmental conditions and change; effects of local, national, and international social, economic, and political structures and institutions; land use; energy production and consumption; industrial growth; and environmental security and sustainable development. Focused projects include Land Use/Land Cover Change (together with IGBP), and the Global Omnibus Environmental Survey. Working groups are being formed to address focused projects in other areas of research.

The HDP Data and Information System (HDP-DIS) will be developed through collaboration with extant social science archives and information sources by forming a data- and information-sharing network that will ultimately interoperate with natural science data and information system initiatives such as the IGBP-DIS. The functions of HDP-DIS include

HDP-DIS is now undertaking an assessment of requirements and implementing elements of an emerging concept of operations. An HDP-DIS Data Users Group and two advisory panels are being formed. These are a Data Resources Panel, chartered to determine the requirements of the HDP focused programs, and a Data Sharing Panel that will develop working relationships among active archives and sources for relevant and required socioeconomic data.

The development of an Internet-based HDP information service is being explored. A catalog interoperability test will explore the applicability of the CEOS metadata model and the IDN concept in the HDP domain. This metadata-sharing experiment will use socioeconomic data archives and sources worldwide in one of the first attempts to link data resources using network-based resource discovery tools. Coordination with the CEOS-IDN is planned to ensure future interoperability. Coordination with the System for Analysis and Training is essential to ensure technology access for developing countries. HDP-DIS activities have been integrated since inception with NASA's EOSDIS through the EOSDIS Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center, managed by CIESIN, which is providing initial HDP data services and coordinating system development.

The Committee on Earth Observations Satellites

The CEOS was created in 1984 as a result of the Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations to serve as a focal point for informal international coordination of space-related Earth observation activities. Its areas of concern are mission planning, data access, networking, data product standards, compatibility and interoperability of data products, services (including catalog, data access, etc.) and applications, as well as instrument calibration and validation of satellite data with ground truth data. The CEOS is a voluntary mechanism operating by consensus.

The members of the CEOS are NASA and NOAA for the United States, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for Canada, the Chinese Academy of Space Technology and the National Remote Sensing Centre for China, the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales for France, the Indian Space Research Organisation for India, the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais for Brazil, the Science and Technology Agency (STA) for Japan, the British National Space Centre for the United Kingdom, the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana for Italy, the Deutsche Agentur fr Raumfahrt-Angelegenheiten for Germany, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization for Australia, the Russian Space Agency and the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorologyand Environment Monitoring for Russia, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) for Europe, the Swedish National Space Board for Sweden, and the National Space Agency of Ukraine. In addition, CEOS observers include the Norwegian Space Centre for Norway, the Canadian Centre for Remote Sensing for Canada, , the Science Policy Office for Belgium, the Crown Research Institute for New Zealand, and the Directorate General 23 for the European Community.

NOAA and NASA have worked for the past several years to broaden the perspective of CEOS beyond its original narrow focus of land- oriented applications of remotely sensed data to encompass the broader range of global change research and environmental monitoring. The CEOS Plenary group has accepted this view of CEOS, and has accepted as CEOS affiliates the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the ICSU, the IGBP, the IOC, the WCRP, the WMO, the UNEP, the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), and the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS).

The CEOS comprises a high-level plenary group with a policy focus and two supporting working groups. The Sensor Calibration and Performance Validation Working Group is now focusing on sensor intercalibration required for global change research. The Working Group on Data (CEOS-WGD) is concerned with coordination of data management. The CEOS-WGD is active in the development of the CEOS IDN as a first step toward international data and information system interoperability, networking, development and adoption of standards for international data exchange formats, development of a lexicon and data dictionary, and assembly of a global 1-km AVHRR data set.

The WGD has developed a coordinating relationship with Panel 2 of the Consultative Committee on Space Data Systems, which is concerned with developing (through a formal process) internationally agreed recommendations for standards in areas relating to data and information exchange.

The CEOS-WGD has created subgroups working at an implementation- coordination level in several areas. These are a Formats Subgroup, working on data exchange formats; a Catalog Subgroup, working on the CEOS-IDN and catalog interoperability in general; a Network Subgroup, working on ground networking between CEOS agencies internationally; and a subgroup on Auxiliary Data Sets.

The Earth Observation-International Coordination Working Group and the International Earth Observing System

The objectives of the EO-ICWG are to promote the IEOS as an integrated Earth observing system to advance understanding of the Earth system, to promote effective use of Earth observation spacecraft (e.g., by coordinating payload planning), and to promote continuity of operational services provided currently by NOAA's polar-orbiting satellites and development of future operational services.

The EO-ICWG was formed in 1986 by NASA, NOAA, and the ESA to coordinate polar platform programs and payload planning. Current participants are: NASA and NOAA for the United States; the ESA and the EUMETSAT for Europe; the STA, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), the Japanese Environment Agency (JEA), the Japanese Meteorological Agency, and the National Space Development Agency (NASDA) for Japan; and the CSA for Canada. These agencies are known collectively as the International Partners. The current role of the EO-ICWG is to coordinate and implement the IEOS, which is seen as the coordinated aggregate of the participating agencies' end-to-end Earth observing systems (i.e., space and consensus).

The EO-ICWG has to date identified the following missions and their supporting ground systems as elements of the IEOS: for the United States, NASA's EOS missions and NOAA's operational Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite series; for Japan, NASDA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and Advanced Earth Observing System (ADEOS) missions; and for Europe, the ESA Polar- Orbit Earth Observation Mission (POEM) missions. In many cases other agencies will provide instruments, including the MITI for EOS, the CSA for EOS, the MITI and NASA for ADEOS, NASA for TRMM, and NOAA and EUMETSAT for POEM.

The EO-ICWG has recognized that implementation of the IEOS would require coordinated efforts in data management. Rather than form a new data management group, the EO-ICWG requested that the CEOS, which had already created an effective forum for informal international coordination, assume responsibility for addressing IEOS data management issues.

Proposed Global Climate Observing System and Global Ocean Observing System

The GCOS and the GOOS are two newly planned and interrelated global-scale observing systems with significant data management components. When even partially implemented, it will be essential for the GCDIS to establish links to its elements. This should not be difficult, since U.S. agencies - particularly NOAA - are playing key roles in the planning and implementation process. Internationally, the EOS is expected to provide a core component of the mature GCOS and GOOS systems. Related data management responsibilities have not been specified, but no doubt the WDC system will play a key role, at least in the interim.

Planning for the GCOS is led by the WMO, with joint sponsorship by the UNEP, the IOC, and the ICSU. The GCOS will collect, manage, and distribute data and information relevant to prediction of climate variability and global climate change, including in situ and remotely sensed data. Four components are planned: oceans, atmosphere, terrestrial, and cryosphere. The WDC system is studying how various relevant centers can undertake data management roles for data resulting from the GCOS and the GOOS, bearing in mind that the data flow is primarily designed for operational (near-real-time) use, and special arrangements may have to be made for parallel or delayed processing for research-grade data products.

Planning for the GOOS is led by the IOC, with joint sponsorship by the WMO, the UNEP, and the ICSU. The GOOS will consist of five modules - climate change, health of the ocean, living marine resources, oceanic conditions (for operations), and coastal zone management. The climate change module of the GOOS will, in large part, serve as the ocean component of the GCOS. Initially, the GOOS will be based on existing programs, including, for example, World Weather Watch, Voluntary Observing Ships, the Integrated Ocean Services Station System, and the IODE. Strong links are planned with such research programs as WOCE, the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Experiment (TOGA), and the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS), and the GOOS will no doubt be modified by their results.

Both the GCOS and the GOOS were strongly endorsed by delegations to the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development, held in June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, and thus have broad support among both industrialized and developing nations. Access to relevant data and information on climate variability and global change is considered essential for developing countries to wisely manage their coastal areas, water resources, agriculture and fisheries, and land use for sustainable development.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The IPCC was established to advise the International Negotiating Committee for the Framework Convention on Climate Change, and is sponsored by the WMO and the UNEP. The IPCC conducts a scientific assessment of climate change every few years, focusing on immediate issues and consequences, and prepares in-depth summary information for policymakers, so that realistic response strategies can be created to manage climate change issues. Thus, the panel is both a user and a synthesizer or producer of information.

Many of the requirements specified by the IPCC are being addressed by continuing international programs. Relevant international projects are coordinated by the WCRP, sponsored by the WMO, the IOC, and the ICSU, and by the IGBP, which is also sponsored by ICSU. The program on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, recently established by the ISSC, is expected to fulfill some of the IPCC requirements for social science data and information.


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