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  Home > Long-Term Research Categories > Information Management > Information Management Summary

Andrews IM Accomplishments and Activities in LTER6, 2008-2010

27 June 2011

Data set creation and updates: Thus far in the LTER 6 funding cycle, the IM team has placed over 20 new study databases online including new LTER 6 databases, newly documented spatial databases, and legacy data sets that have been migrated into the information system. The new web pages now feature the ability to browse on "signature" data sets (see Table III.2), which represent long-term core research. Several signature climate, hydrology, and vegetation data sets are specifically maintained and updated by the IM Team and technical staff. Some examples of recent data product development of note are:

Bibliography: The Andrews bibliography has been migrated from legacy Procite software into the metadata database where it can be directly managed from the administrative interface and easily searchable through the web interface. All LTER publications and library documents have been scanned (into pdf files) for online access, and scanning of remaining Andrews publications is underway. Additionally, publication abstracts are now searchable to improve discovery of Andrews publications.

Information system development: The Andrews LTER web pages have been updated and redesigned into a modern style. A new search interface for databases and publications was written (in LINQ) to be faster and more efficient. A web-based tool, the administrative interface, was designed and implemented to allow researchers and site members to update and edit study metadata and manage their personnel information. This interface also provides project registration forms, which are required for conducting research at the Andrews site. The interface was coded (ASP.NET) through a contract with Business Solutions Group (BSG) at OSU who hire and train student programmers and development engineers.

A web-based tool that generates the metadata standard EML from the SQLServer metadata database has been greatly enhanced to better conform to LTER best practices for EML. The tool uses style sheet transformations (XSLT) to convert SQL native-XML into EML and was originally described in DataBits. This is an important improvement for Andrews metadata to ensure compliance with PASTA architecture being developed at LNO, and particularly new LNO tools for checking congruency of site data with their EML description. This work was funded through the special 2010 LTER supplement for information management.

Data is increasingly being collected using radio telemetry to stream high-temporal resolution data to the Headquarters base station. As the wireless communication capabilities expand, so does the need for better management of streaming data. Currently much of the climate station and stream gauging station data is put online "as is" on an hourly basis, and provisional data tables are made available daily. Standardizing the capture and quality screening of all streaming data will allow the system to provide immediate access to many additional data streams. SQLServer procedures have been developed (2011) to pull streaming climate data from four benchmark weather stations, provide initial data limits checking, and place in archival entity structures. These procedures serve as the prototype for handling streaming data and efficiently providing access without information manager intervention.

Other previously developed tools are still maintained including a lodging and conference room use reservation system, streamflow summary tool (FLOW), climate data summary tool (GLITCH), analytical lab management system (CCAL), and multiple online forms for registration, reservations, and requests.

Spatial data activities: The GIS data have been converted from coverage to shape file format and projected from NAD27 datum to NAD83 datum. This process was necessary to meet US Forest Service GIS data standards, to provide data readable by Open Source software, and to keep current with ESRI software products. Providing data in the NAD83 datum was necessary to match existing data with the new LiDAR data and to integrate with on-line data sources for imagery (Google Maps and Bing Maps). Data downloads will now contain both NAD27 and NAD83 datasets, along with FGDC and EML metadata.

A "place keyword" table provides coordinate, elevation, and descriptive information for all Andrews study sites, and serves as a means to search databases by location. Recently, this data table has been enhanced through programs developed to extract this information from GIS systems. A Google Maps application (see figure) was developed to dynamically display site locations associated with databases through pop-up windows and imagery.

Annual GPS sorties have also been used to improve study site and infrastructure spatial coordinates and elevations at the Andrews site. These sorties occur over a 2 to 3 day period when optimal satellite coverage is available, and participants use precision GPS units and take digital photographs at each site. Retiree volunteers have been invaluable in locating and documenting historic measurement sites. The resulting data have been critical in conducting analysis in conjunction with LiDAR data, and in assuring documentation and protection of sites.

A new Andrews paper map and brochure is currently in press and also available as a map service. Detailed LiDAR information provided an opportunity to correct and update out-of-date topography, roads and streams, and replenish supplies of maps. The back of the map is designed as a brochure, with information about research, local points of interest, and recreational opportunities. Web users can view GIS information with the map as a backdrop in ArcGIS, or print a custom map on the new site plotter.

Planning: The Andrews IM advisory committee includes the IM Team, the site manager, the administrative coordinator, and a signatory PI. The committee serves as a means to provide annual reviews of IM activities and reports to the HJA Exec committee. The committee has been active the past two years in guiding IM efforts to improve efficiency, prepare for the 2011 site review, address the data access and release policies, and identify and prioritize signature data for update and placement online. An ad hoc web content and design committee has also been active to guide the redesign of the web site.

Technology: LiDAR was flown for the Andrews in 2008. Products include processed point clouds, both 1-meter bare-earth and vegetation Digital Elevation Models (DEM), and intensity grids. Several researchers and students are integrating LiDAR data into their projects.

A wireless communications network is under development and two radio towers will be constructed at the Roswell Mountain and RS20 Ridge locations. One acre of second-growth forest was cleared at RS20 Ridge to provide line-of-site to Roswell Mountain and back to the Andrews Headquarters (HDQTRS). The radio towers will be the backbone for site wireless communication and support pairs of direct line-of-site 5.8 GHz radios with Ethernet bridges between HDQTRS and RS20 and RS20 and Roswell. Two additional radio pairs are planned from RS20 to WS1 treetop and Ws1 treetop to WS1 Airshed tower. The WS1 Airshed tower will support an 802.11 Wi-Fi access point. The RS20 tower has been constructed and Roswell Tower will be built once access is open in summer 2011. The radios will be battery-powered by a 2.5 kW solar array (12 210-watt panels) to assure enough power to allow for year round operation even at the seasonally inaccessible Roswell Mountain site.

The new communication network will improve efficiency and bandwidth to the existing radio telemetry network. The existing network includes four benchmark weather stations and several stream gauging stations linked to headquarters via radio telemetry. Measurement data is transmitted hourly, displayed graphically online, and provided as provisional data for download. This original telemetry system is based on FCC-licensed VHF radios operating at 151 MHz, but will no longer be supported for Campbell dataloggers. A telemetry system based on 900 megahertz spread spectrum radios is also in use at the WS1 "cyber watershed". The new network will provide more efficient streaming of data and internet access near the Airshed Tower, and opens the possibility for additional internet access points throughout the forest.

The last three years have seen the upgrade and enhancement of existing technology tools: