Georgia Coastal Ecosystems SiteBytes 2007

LTER Site: Georgia Coastal Ecosystems (GCE)

Contributor: Wade Sheldon (Jul 25, 2007)

Site Byte:

1. Annual Site Byte

Our major focus this past year has been transitioning from GCE-I to GCE-II, which began in January 2007. Our GCE-II study plan emphasizes marsh processes and landscape-scale ecology, so we added a major GIS component to our project to support this research. We began by hiring a full time assistant IM / spatial data manager (Kris Meehan) to develop GIS resources for the project and assist investigators and students with GIS analyses, as well as provide backup and support to our lead IM (Wade Sheldon). We also greatly expanded our IT infrastructure to accommodate large volumes of geospatial data. For example, we added a high speed GIS workstation, 2 TB spatial data server (running ArcGIS SDE 9.2 with MS SQL 2000) and LTO-3 tape backup system, and we have just ordered an updated web server with 1 TB RAID to support hosting of GIS data and imagery on the web. We also maintain a GIS workstation and file server at our field site, as well as 50-seat ArcGIS license servers both at Sapelo and UGA Marine Sciences.

We also acquired a high precision field GPS unit (Trimble GeoXH, with subfoot accuracy) and post-processing software this spring, and are finally starting to acquire good geo-location information for our land-based sampling sites and plots. Hydrographic sites are already geo-referenced using high-precision GPS on research vessels, so now all our research locations can be properly registered in the GIS. Kris has made major progress in acquiring maps, imagery, and GPS data relevant to our study area and organizing them into documented geodatabases; unfortunately, she will be leaving the project this fall for a job in Iceland so we are about to begin the hiring and training process all over again.

These major additions to our IM program (as well as moving into a new office at UGA) have dominated work this year, but we did make progress in a few other areas as well. Don Henshaw, Ken Ramsey and I received post-ASM funding to conduct a workshop on quality control for derived data products, which was held at JRN in conjunction with a Trends editorial meeting in February 2007. Several other LTER IMs attended, as well as representatives from LNO, CUAHSI, SEEK and the Canopy Databank Project. Follow-up work is planned during this IM meeting in San Jose, and I will also be demonstrating new Q/C capabilities in the GCE Data Toolbox software inspired by discussion in the workshop. I also collaborated with Barrie Collins to provide access to near-real-time USGS streamflow data on the CWT web site, as well as automatic data harvesting for HydroDB. Similar capability could also be added for other sites very quickly, with results "skinned" using html templates to provide appropriate look and feel, so let me know if anyone is interested in a similar collaboration.

The other major project we undertook this spring was to redesign the GCE web site. We needed a more flexible menu system as well as better support for dynamic content and user contributions. We also wanted to simplify maintenance, update the code for better W3C standards compliance, and incorporate more of the LTER web design group recommendations. We finished developing a prototype framework early this summer, and we are currently gathering feedback and moving our existing content to the new site. We will launch the new site in conjunction with deployment of our new web server this fall. Planned additions to this site are listed below.


2. Planned IM Projects

a. finish migration of legacy content to new web site (designed in summer 2007)
b. develop web forms to allow GCE participants to directly upload bibliographic citations, reprints, project announcements and documents to the database
c. implement a "current conditions" page on the GCE web site for integrated display of tide predictions and near-real-time weather and hydrographic plots (with access to documented data sets)
d. expand GCE data catalog coverage to include ancillary data holdings (to provide EML support and integrated searching)
e. add support for multiple data set selection and zip archive downloads to data catalog (i.e. shopping cart metaphor)
f. add search and browse interfaces to data catalog
g. extend GCE data catalog to include new geospatial data sets (with EML metadata)
h. implement map query interface (Google maps) to data catalog