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PAGES Workshop Report Series 95-2:
Workshop Summary

In August 1993, participants from 13 countries met in Bern, Switzerland, to discuss the management of paleoclimate data relevant to the goals of the IGBP Past Global Changes (PAGES) Project. Reports from participants described many of the efforts currently underway to archive and distribute paleoclimate data, and identified protocols currently in place for the management of paleoclimate data. Following the reports from participants, working groups met separately to identify priorities and establish guidelines for several different data categories, including tree-ring data, and historical documentary data, paleoceanographic data, modeling data, climate reconstruction data, and ice core data. The group met in plenary session to examine the findings of each working group, and develop recommendations that form the basis for the PAGES Data Management Guide.

Reports from participants described 29 different national and international efforts currently underway to collect, archive, and distribute paleoclimate data. The types of data discussed were extremely diverse, ranging from historical documents to sea level and lake level data spanning the late Quaternary to gridded fields derived from climate model simulations. In many cases, protocols for the collection and distribution of the data are now in place, and the participants noted that this makes a logical step in the development of comprehensive data management guidelines. In many cases, these data are being assimilated in order to satisfy specific goals, scientific foci, or national objectives that are distinct from the PAGES scientific foci. Workshop participants agreed that to meet the PAGES objective - to develop a multi-proxy three-dimensional record of climate extending backwards in time, a set of common guidelines for PAGES data are required.

Following the reports from participants, working groups met separately to develop guidelines for specific data categories. In many cases, the working groups recognized protocols already in place, for example the International Tree-Ring Data Bank file formats and protocols. Additional recommendations were established to ensure that the data collected could be used to address the PAGES scientific foci. For relatively new categories of data, and categories lacking existing protocols, experts within the working groups identified key data management issues. Guidelines for the collection of paleoclimate data were developed by the individual working groups, and discussed by all workshop participants.

The group recognized that paleoclimate data are extremely diverse, and often collected for different scientific foci. Thus, guidelines need to be created or fine-tuned as the paleoclimate research community moves to create an international public domain database from heterogeneous sources. Guidelines are a useful way to ensure that these data can be used to address the scientific objectives of PAGES. The Guidelines can be summarized by the following general principles, in addition to the more specific recommendations that appear in the section PAGES Data Management Guide.

  • Data should be freely distributed and available without restriction.

  • Data archived should include both reconstructed climate and the raw data from which the reconstructions are derived. Raw data should be sufficiently detailed so that reconstructions can be reproduced or evaluated using different calibration data, and for uncertainty to be evaluated.

  • Metadata (data that describe the measurements, including site location, units of measure) are as important as the individual data themselves. Every effort should be made to include sufficient metadata so that the measurements can be fully utilized.

The World Data Center-A for Paleoclimatology in Boulder, Colorado, USA, serves as the data coordination center for IGBP PAGES, and will be committed to providing regular updates on the rapidly expanding paleoenvironmental data activities that result from the Bern Workshop.

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World Data Center-A for Paleoclimatology

4 February 1999