Wetenschap - 3 september 2010

Alterra sets up intelligent site on climate knowledge

Alterra has been appointed by the European Commission to set up a clearinghouse for climate knowledge. This mechanism will bring together European knowledge about the consequences of and the adaptations to climate change.

'Climate research in Europe is carried out widely by many establishments and institutions. These should be brought together', says project manager Rob Lokers of the Centre for Geo-Information at Alterra. 'We will integrate the knowledge in all the sets of data and make these traceable. We're dealing with metadata: data about data, a description of the information available elsewhere.'
Web portal
The clearing house itself is part of the base and is therefore an ICT system. In this system, all the data are accessible and can be traced via a web portal. But it is not just a bit of ICT technique and a website, according to Lokers and his colleague Rob Swart of the Earth System Science and Climate Change group. Swart: 'This will be an intelligent website, one which considers the user and the purpose for using the information. Analytical tools will be added so that something can also be done with the information. There are all sorts of ideas on how to make the system user-friendly, easily accessible and non-technical. It should enable people from different disciplines to use it with their own vocabulary and language.' Such users could, for example, be policy advisors, researchers and technicians.
Icing
The project kicks off today (Friday 3 September). Alterra has two and a half years to complete it. Lokers: 'The system should be in operation at the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen in early 2012. The total sum involved will be a little less than one million euros.' The Wageningen climate science team has acquired a series of big European projects in the last few years, says Swart. 'We occupy a prominent position in Europe. That's worthy of notice. In fact, we are involved all over, but this is indeed the icing on the cake.

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