About NEMD

The National Ecological Meta Database project was conceived following the publication of the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2001. This report highlighted that, although there were numerous studies linking changes in natural process and species with changes in regional climate, very little was known about the effects that changes in the Australasian climate system were having on our natural systems and species. It was perceived that at least part of the problem was a lack of knowledge of what datasets, relevant to the Australasian region, existed.

This prompted researchers at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the University of Melbourne and Macquarie University (with funding from the Australian Greenhouse Office) to develop a centrally located meta database that allows easy access to a wide variety of metadata from numerous sources.

The objectives of the National Ecological Meta Database are to:

  • Improve our knowledge of the impacts of climate change on natural systems and species;
  • Provide information on baseline data for future monitoring programs;
  • Promote sharing of knowledge between regions and institutions;
  • Improve the capacity of natural resource managers to adapt to climate change through improved understanding of climate-species relationships;
  • Assist in the identification of climate change indicator species (climate proxies).

Although originally developed to facilitate greater understanding of the impacts of climate change on Australia's natural systems, the database goes beyond this, and provides information relevant to all natural resource managers, researchers and policy makers.

The NEMD has two main components: the collection of information about datasets (metadata) and the ability to search for information about existing datasets.

Information stored in the NEMD

To enable members of the public to obtain access to data or information about particular datasets, NEMD collects basic information about the owner of the dataset and the owner's organisation details. It is the contributor's responsibility to maintain the accuracy of any information provided to the Bureau of Meteorology. Base elements are a contact name and at least one contact method (e.g. e-mail, telephone, postal).
To ensure that all records are unique, the data owner/custodian is invited to supply a name for their dataset and, where known, an ANZLIC identifier. Other general information collected on the dataset includes data format (e.g. paper records, electronic records), the location of the data collection (using bounding boxes), the time period over which the data were collected and any interruptions to the sampling period.
The types of natural systems data covered by NEMD includes: amphibian, bird, cave, coral (and coral core), fish, fungi, ice core, ice sheet, invertebrate, lichen, mammal, plankton, plant (native, introduced, crop species), plant pathogen, pollen, tree ring, and reptile. Within each of these, the data owner/custodian can further specify the data type, e.g. distributional data, breeding data, migration data.

Technical Specifications

The database has been constructed using PostgreSQL 8.0.1. (The database contains over 550 fields for metadata storage.)

The HTML-coding is HTML 4.0 Transitional.

JavaScript 1.1 is used to control the HTML web-pages.

The Java-interface between the web-pages and the database was written with Java 1.5. (Java-coding was written using Eclipse 3.1.1.)

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