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Meeting to Coordinate USGS Data Management to Support Ocean Planning

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Americans use their coastal ocean in many ways: fishing for food; drilling for oil; shipping fuels and manufactured goods; fishing, boating, and diving for enjoyment; U.S. Navy activities; and more. As we increase our use of the ocean, these activities are coming into conflict with each other. To resolve these conflicts, those who care about how we use the sea, and how we keep it clean and productive, can participate in a process called “ocean planning,” which is part of the 2013 National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan. Successful ocean planning will require a regional public process that considers all parties and all ocean uses, and it will also require trustworthy scientific data addressing ocean ecosystems and resources, the changing ocean environment, and the effects of both human activities and natural events. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is one of the Federal agencies that will provide these data.

Providing scientific data to support ocean planning is not trivial. The data must provide answers to the right questions; it must have documentation so that it can be found and used; it must be in a format that allows it to be compared and combined with other kinds of data from other agencies; and its quality must be undeniable. The USGS already has established “best practices” for data management and Fundamental Science Practices that ensure the quality of our scientific products. The current challenge for USGS data managers is to apply what they know to meet the needs of the National Ocean Policy.

Diagram illustrating the proposed process for coordinating USGS data management to support ocean planning
Above: Diagram illustrating the proposed process for coordinating USGS data management to support ocean planning. "Actors" in the process (stick figures) are the humans, organizations, and computers responsible for specific actions (ovals). Arrows indicate the general flow of events, beginning with communication of the data needs of external ocean-planning groups and ending with registration of relevant USGS data and associated metadata ("data about data") with the Data.gov ocean community . The envisioned process can be applied to support other national initiatives in addition to ocean planning. [larger version]

To launch this effort, the USGS Blueprint Team for Ocean Planning convened a meeting to coordinate data-management activities to support ocean planning, February 20–21, 2013, at USGS Headquarters in Reston, Virginia. The intention of the meeting sponsors was to develop a flexible process that could be implemented throughout the USGS in support of many national initiatives in addition to ocean planning. A pilot project focusing on data from the Coastal and Marine Geology Program will be used to refine this cooperative process for identifying appropriate datasets, evaluating their quality and usefulness, making necessary improvements, submitting them to online data-delivery services, and registering their metadata (“data about data”) with online data catalogs such as the National Ocean Council portal on Data.gov. Meeting participants also identified essential areas of cooperation between the Coastal and Marine Geology Program, the Core Science Systems mission area, and the Office of Science Quality and Integrity in developing the process. In the future, the process will expand to include additional USGS science programs with the help of the Science Data Coordinator Network and the Community for Data Integration.

Key aspects of managing USGS data to support ocean planning are:

  • Development of the role of “data ambassador” to communicate with external planning groups that need scientific data and to convey their requirements to USGS data managers.
  • Assignment of responsibility to Core Science Systems for maintaining the “pipeline” for registering USGS data products with Data.gov and its specialized communities (more information on Data.gov communities).
  • Clarification of USGS standards and policies for data and metadata to ensure that USGS data products meet requirements for quality and interoperability.
  • Use of standards-based online data-delivery services and data catalogs (more information on these standards).

Meeting participants from across the USGS included Fran Lightsom, Alan Allwardt, Kristy Guy, VeeAnn Cross, Carolyn Degnan, Greg Miller, Susan Russell-Robinson, and Rich Signell from the Coastal and Marine Geology Program; Andrea Ostroff, Mark Fornwall, Lisa Zolly, Viv Hutchison, and Mike McDermott from Core Science Analytics and Synthesis; Peter Schweitzer from the Mineral Resources Program; Barbara Poore and Doug Nebert from the National Geospatial Program; Steve Char from the National Water-Quality Assessment Program; Heather Henkel from Priority Ecosystems Science; and Keith Kirk from the Office of Science Quality and Integrity. The charge to the meeting was presented by Kevin Gallagher, Associate Director for Core Science Systems, and John Haines, Program Coordinator for the Coastal and Marine Geology Program.

For more information on the USGS Blueprint Team for Ocean Planning, please contact Fran Lightsom, flightsom@usgs.gov, or Andrea Ostroff, aostroff@usgs.gov.

Related Sound Waves Stories
Moving Toward a World Wide Web for Scientific Data—Working Sessions on Use Cases for Semantic-Web Development
Jan. / Feb. 2012
Ocean Research the Focus of USGS Director's Plenary Lecture at the AAAS 2010 Annual Meeting
April 2010

Related Websites
National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan
The White House
Supporting and Enabling USGS Data Management
USGS Fundamental Science Practices
Coastal and Marine Geology Program
Core Science Systems
Office of Science Quality and Integrity
Science Data Coordinator Network (SDCN)
Community for Data Integration (CDI)
Open Geospatial Consortium Standards and Supporting Documents
Open Geospatial Consortium
Welcome to the Data.gov Communities page!

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Deepwater Gas Hydrate Deposits in the Gulf of Mexico

Deep-Sea Tripod System to be Deployed in South China Sea

Research New Reports Assess Probability of Hurricane-Induced Coastal Change

Weight-Based Approach to Measuring Coral Growth

California Mallard Ducks Surf for Food

Outreach Inspiring Girls To Pursue Careers in STEM

Meeting to Coordinate USGS Data Management to Support Ocean Planning

Mike Field Receives Distinguished Service Award

Publications Gene Shinn Writes Bootstrap Geologist—My Life in Science

July / Aug. Publications

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