Data management to enhance long-term watershed research capacity: Context and STEWARDS case study

  • Steiner J
  • John Sadler E
  • Hatfield J
 et al. 
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Water resources are under pressure globally due to growing population, human migration into arid regions, and diverse competing needs. In recent decades, progress in the study of information (informatics) and its manipulation via computer-based tools has stimulated development of data systems in many natural resources disciplines. Such informatics systems provide data storage, access, visualization, perhaps with analysis/modelling tools, and download capacity. Application of database technology can overcome problems of fragmentation, inadequate documentation, and cumbersome manipulation of complex data. Data management was a critical requirement for USDA's Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) which was established to quantify environmental effects of agricultural conservation practices. Although USDA and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have conducted watershed research since early 20th century, the data have been managed and disseminated independently from each research location, reducing accessibility and utility of these data for policy-relevant, multi-site analyses. To address these concerns, STEWARDS (Sustaining the Earth's Watersheds—Agricultural Research Data System) was developed to compile, document, and provide access to data from loosely coupled research watersheds. The STEWARDS case study is used to illustrate the role of data management in enhancing ecohydrological research and evolving information technologies available to improve data management from complex ecohydrologic studies.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Agroecosystems
  • CEAP
  • Database
  • Hydrology
  • Informatics
  • Open source data

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  • Jean L. Steiner

  • E. John Sadler

  • Jerry L. Hatfield

  • Greg Wilson

  • Bruce Vandenberg

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