Keywords: observing systems and networks, terrestrial ecosystem, global environmental changes, variables monitoring, in situ research, satellite observations
The terrestrial ecosystem monitoring sites: a utility assessment
Ecological research sites generate data which are potentially useful at the national, regional and global scales. However, most of the data remain embedded in local, project-specific research programmes. The primary role of the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) is to act as a data broker and bring researchers and modellers together in order to better understand global change processes in areas such as climate change and biodiversity. The Terrestrial Ecosystem Monitoring Sites (TEMS) database is a GTOS-led effort to enhance the ability of sites to collaborate and provide a framework for researchers, resource managers and decision makers who seek data to support their efforts at the regional and global levels. Early in 2002, a user survey was carried out to assess the use of the TEMS database, the adequacy of geographic coverage and identify future user requirements. The survey also assessed the utility of specific features within the website such as the environmental variables methodology sheets, the search engines and the dynamic map interface. The results confirmed that TEMS contains useful information which can be easily accessed. The registered sites are under-represented, on both an eco-regional and continental basis, in all geographic areas except for Europe and Northern America. Data sharing, including satellite imagery, was indicated to be of high priority; however, free access to data remains a constraint in some regions. Finally, a focus on electronic solicitation and outreach should be continued.