POGO/SCOR Workshop on International Research Cruise Database and Website

NOAA, 13 December 2005


To improve access to information on past and future research cruises by establishing a comprehensive and user-friendly database and searchable website with information on cruise tracks, types of observations, chief scientist contact information, metadata (for past cruises), project identifier, and berths available


1. To share information on types of data available from past cruises, to maximise use of existing data
2. To share information on future cruises to facilitate co-ordination and optimisation of cruise opportunities and ship time

Invited Participants:

Mike Johnson (NOAA) 
Ed Urban (SCOR)
Marieke Rietveld (ISOM)
Doug White (University of Delaware)
Etienne Charpentier (IOC/JCOMM)
Laurent d’Ozouville (Eurocean) 
Shubha Sathyendranath (POGO) 


At the POGO-6 meeting, the members recognised the need to improve on information sharing on pre-planned, planned, current and past cruises and related databases to enhance awareness of opportunities, to improve cost-effectiveness of cruises and to improve data mining. With respect to cruise planning and information sharing, it was recognised that the following steps had to be undertaken to improve cruise efficiency:

• Identify features needed in an ideal database of research cruises
• Determine how well existing databases fit the ideal, and how they would need to be changed to meet the needs of scientists
• Estimate the cost of modifying an existing database or creating a new one
• Request support from appropriate agencies to augment an existing database
• Work with existing efforts in the area, rather than re-invent the wheel.

At a meeting sponsored by the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) in September 2004, representatives of international marine research projects concluded that major benefits would be available to the research projects if a database of research cruises were available to them. The meeting recommended that SCOR investigate the available options.

Since the POGO and SCOR activities had the same goals, POGO suggested that a working group consisting of Marieke Rietveld (POGO, Royal NIOZ, Netherlands), Douglas White (U. Delaware), Ed Urban (SCOR), and Shubha Sathyendranath (POGO) investigate ways and means to implement these improvements. It was also suggested that Laurent D’Ozouville (Euroceans) and someone from IOC dealing with the VOS system be included in this working group, if possible. Time frame for the operations of this group is 1 year, and the group is to report on action and recommendations at POGO-7. Mike Johnson (NOAA) has also been included in these discussions. The group has initiated discussions by e-mail, and Marieke Rietveld, Jan de Leeuw and Shubha Sathyendranath also met in NIOZ on the occasion of the N&I Planning Meeting, to discuss possible actions.

The present situation is that the University of Delaware already maintains a site that provides cruise information (past, present and future). Ideally, one would build on this, rather than start a new process.

The following issues have been identified:

(1) the financial support that UofD was getting has not been renewed; so there is a need to identify a new source of funding. Doug White, who is in charge of this site, has been requested to make a proposal identifying the additional funding required for maintaining and improving the site.

(2) The site as it exists, is not very user friendly, and there is a need to improve on the user interface. Doug White has reported that he has already started working on improving the site.

(3) The third and major problem remains the lack of information flow from ship operators and research projects to the University of Delaware. Without adequate information, the usefulness of the site would be limited. This is an area where POGO members can play a major role in ensuring that information on past and future cruises can be provided to the web manager, for periodic and timely updates.

(4) It has also been brought to the attention of the working group that some organisations are reluctant to provide information on future cruises to a public domain, because of security concerns. Ways to address this problem that are being discussed include password protecting the site (not an attractive solution to those who would like to see free and easy flow of information among scientists), and degrading the information on location and time sufficiently to satisfy security concerns. Once a firm proposal is received from the University of Delaware, and a clear idea of the funding requirements emerge, POGO will work with partners to identify funding sources.

Ideal Characteristics of database and website

1. Free and easy access
2. Will contain information on past cruises and future cruises (location, time and types of observations made or planned, berths available, contact points for further information, links to public domain data if any)
3. Searchable and user-friendly
4. Its added value would be sufficient to stimulate voluntary participation and input of data by institutions and research projects.

Workshop Venue:

NOAA – Office of Global Programs
1100 Wayne Ave., Suite 1200
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 427 – 2330 phone
(301) 427 – 0033 fax
Host: Mike.Johnson@noaa.gov

Workshop Date and Time:

One day only – December 13, 2005, starting at 09:00


1. Short Background of Meeting: Shubha Sathyendranath
2. Presentation of existing strawman site and database: Doug White
3. Feedback from participants: All
4. Plan way forward: All
5. Financial implications: Introduced by Doug White
6. Workshop Recommendations: All

Year: 2005

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