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UNH Institute Receives $3M from NASA for Web-Based Environmental Info System
DURHAM, N.H. -- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has awarded the University of New Hampshire $3 million to develop a Web-based environmental information system.

The award to the university's Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space (EOS) will fund a working prototype of an Earth Observing System Web-based System for Terrestrial Environmental Research, dubbed EOS-WEBSTER.

"This will mean making scientific data available to the broader research community," says EOS director Berrien Moore III, who developed the project. "It will also mean that additional users -- government agencies, schools and others outside the research community -- will have access to this information."

Instead of using the past practice of UNH researchers relaying data to NASA for further refinement and dissemination to other researchers, UNH will be responsible for providing its own working database. Thus, the generator of information becomes the disseminator as well. Moore notes, "This project gives us an opportunity to work with innovative software companies right here in New Hampshire."

This new approach is part of NASA's Earth Science Information Partners program, which along with UNH involves two dozen other collaborators from industry and the academic community.

The $3 million award builds on the university's existing reputation as a leader in global change research, Moore points out. UNH researchers and their collaborators use satellite data to build databases detailing soils, vegetation, climate, hydrology and typology on regional, continental and global scales.

From compiling the state of New Hampshire's Geographic Information System to providing global ecological information to a world audience, UNH global change researchers have wide-ranging, information-gathering tools -- from satellite imagery to field studies to computer simulation -- at their disposal. Thanks to this NASA award, what they find will be incorporated into EOS-WEBSTER and made easily available.

A "lightweight" version of EOS-WEBSTER with limited functions will be on line this summer, says James Harville, the project's senior software engineer. Further refinement will continue in the weeks following. Plans call for a new release every six months, says Harville.

The ultimate goal of EOS-WEBSTER -- the goal of all global change research -- is to determine the Earth's changes: how it is changing naturally and how it is changing because of human activity.

"EOS-WEBSTER represents a dramatic departure from previous centralized data-archiving approaches," says Moore, "and is driven by the requirements of our collaborators within the evolving federation, the Earth system science community as well as the needs of the general public."

"The Federation approach is such a departure from NASA's current approach to managing and disseminating its data that we are starting with a working prototype," says Martha Maiden, of NASA's Earth Science Systems Program Office. "UNH is in on the ground floor of actually defining how the Federation will work."

Contact: Carmelle Druchniak, 603-862-1462

Additional information available at:http://www.eos.sr.unh.edu