Here’s a really good article from the folks at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on the collaboration MSR has ongoing between LBL and the Berkeley Water Center. It highlights the use of databases for scientific information as Catharine mentions…
“One of the greatest challenges of the next century will be developing cyber-architectures that allow scientists to easily navigate their digital assets. Today, the internet has given environmental researchers instant access to a wealth of field data. Now, they need a scientific ‘safety deposit box’ system that will not only store this information, but also organize it so it is searchable and ready for analysis,” says van Ingen.
Guarding water supplies, protecting endangered species and curbing greenhouse gases is going high-tech. Environmental scientists are turning to innovative cyber-infrastructures and data-mining tools.
As they strive to develop effective strategies for guarding water supplies, protecting endangered species and curbing greenhouse gases, environmental scientists are turning to innovative cyber-infrastructures and data-mining tools developed by an ongoing collaboration between researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Microsoft Research, and the University of California, Berkeley.
The Microsoft eScience program is the primary funder of this project, which is one of numerous ventures cultivated by the Berkeley Water Center (BWC). Launched approximately three years ago by researchers from the Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley’s Colleges of Engineering and Natural Resources, the BWC marshals expertise from public institutions and the private sector in support of projects that enable science and public policy researchers to more easily access and work with water and environmental datasets.
“The most cost-efficient way to impact issues like global climate change and water management is to develop cyber-architectures that organize data and foster scientific collaboration,” says Susan Hubbard, staff scientist in the Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and associate director of the BWC.
Environmental scientists typically collect data on a project-by-project basis, in campaigns targeted at very specific topics. One study may use NASA satellites to track annual rainfall of deserts around the globe, while another project sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) might measure the annual water tables of the Sahara desert with commercial sensors. The data are then typically stored in local archive systems and accessed by researchers associated with that particular project. These sites are scattered across the country, tend to be aligned with specific campaigns, and are funded by a variety of organizations.
Rest of the article at: New Tools Mobilize Local Data to Study Global Environmental Issues « Berkeley Lab News Center