Locating Biodiversity Data Through The Global Change Master DirectoryThe Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) presently holds descriptions for almost 7000 data sets held worldwide. The directory's primary purpose is for data discovery. The information provided through the GCMD's Directory Interchange Format (DIF) is the set of information that a researcher would need to determine if a particular data set could be of value. By offering data set descriptions worldwide in many scientific disciplines - including meteorology, oceanography, ecology, geology, hydrology, geophysics, remote sensing, paleoclimate, solar-terrestrial physics, and human dimensions of climate change - the GCMD simplifies the discovery of data sources. Direct linkages to many of the data sets are also provided. In addition, several data set registration tools are offered for populating the directory. To search the directory, one may choose the Guided Search or Free-Text Search. Two experimental interfaces were also made available with the latest software release - one based on a keyword search and another based on a graphical interface. The graphical interface was designed in collaboration with the Human Computer Interaction Laboratory at the University of Maryland. The latest version of the software, Version 6, was released in April, 1998. It features the implementation of a scheme to handle hierarchical data set collections (parent-child relationships); a hierarchical geospatial location search scheme; a Java-based geographic map for conducting geospatial searches; a Related-URL field for project-related data set collections, metadata extensions (such as more detailed inventory information), etc.; a new implementation of the Isite software; a new dataset language field; hyperlinked email addresses, and more. The key to the continued evolution of the GCMD is in the flexibility of the GCMD database, allowing modifications and additions to made relatively easily to maintain currency, thus providing the ability to capitalize on current technology while importing all existing records. Changes are discussed and approved through an online "interoperability" forum. The next major release of the GCMD is scheduled for early 1999 and will include the incorporation of a new matrix-based interface, a rapid valids-based query system; improvement in the operations facility - important for future distributed options; new streamlined code for greater performance and maintainability; improvements in the handling of seven current fields proposed through the interoperability forum (at no expense to the data providers); and the release of DOCmorph, a more robust version of DIFmorph to translate many 'standards' multi-directionally. Issues and actions will also be addressed.
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Olsen, Lola M. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)