Background to “Palaeo sea-level and ice-sheet databases: problems, strategies and perspectives”

This post is about the new paper, which got out this week by a group of authors, including me, on databases. The title of the paper is “Palaeo sea-level and ice-sheet databases: problems, strategies and perspectives” and was published in Climate of the Past. It bases on discussions and results of a PALSEA2 meeting in 2014 in Lochinver and was compiled by many leading scientists in this field.

The fundamental question this paper addresses is how to bring the information gathered in the field are brought to those using the data for their analysis. A medium for this are databases and many scientists create their own in many different ways. But how to make them reusable by other scientists in the best possible way is a huge task. As such this paper shows some general guidelines for the workflow of database creation and which steps should be taken in the future. It focusses therein on palaeo sea-level and ice-sheet data as they are used to investigate the development of the sea-level in the past thousands and millions of years.

This post should be an introduction to some other background posts, which I intend to write in the next weeks on further details of the paper. The topics I intend to write about are

  1. What makes palaeo sea-level and ice-sheet data so special?
  2. What does ATTAC^3 mean for scientific data handling?
  3. Data publishing? Isn’t that a solved issue?
  4. Data citation and the problem with the H-index
  5. What can the future bring?

With these topics I hope to enlight some more details of this topic from my personal view.

Big Data – More risks than chances?

There is an elephant in the room, at every conference in nearly every discipline. The elephant is so extraordinary that everyone seems to want to watch and hype it. In all this trouble a lot of common sense seems to get lost and especially the little mice, who are creeping around the corners, overlooked.

The big topic is Big Data, the next big thing that will revolutionise society, at least when you believe the advertisements. The topic grew in the past few years into something really big, especially as the opportunities of this term are regularly demonstrated by social media companies. Funding agencies and governments have seen this and put Big Data at their top of their science agenda. A consequence are masses of scientist, sitting in conference sessions about Big Data and discussions vary between the question on what it is and how it can be used. Nevertheless, there are a lot of traps in this field, who might have serious consequences for science in general. Continue reading

PALSEA2 conference in Lochinver/Scotland

Last week I visited the second time a meeting of PALSEA2, this time in Lochinver, after the last one has taken place in Rome. PALSEA2 is a group of sientists, who focuses on the evaluation of paleo sea-level and causes for its change over time. Every year, a meeting takes place and brings people together to talk about this topic and how to proceed to put further constrains on future sea-level. Each meeting has a main topic and this year databases for sea-level indicators was at the top of the lists to discuss. Many interesting conversations filled the days and lead to many insights into this diverse research field.

Travelling through the highlands

Travelling through the highlands

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