The USDA and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have supported watershed research since the 1930's with sites added periodically to meet evolving needs. However data from ARS watersheds have been managed and disseminated independently at each research location, hindering accessibility and utility of these data for policy-relevant, multi-site analyses. Comprehensive, long-term data for watershed systems across diverse locations are essential for interdisciplinary hydrologic and ecosystem analysis and model development, calibration and validation.
A team within the Conservation Effects Assessment Project- Watershed Assessment Studies has developed a web-based data delivery system to provide access to soil, water, climate, land-management, and socio-economic data from fourteen watersheds. The system, STEWARDS: Sustaining the Earth's Watersheds, Agricultural Research Data System, allows a variety of users to search, visualize, and download data via the internet. STEWARDS consists of:
1) a centralized site with Web/SQL/ArcGIS servers and application software, including a database management system (DBMS) and a geospatial data access portal; 2) data: including measurement data, imagery/GIS, and metadata; 3) users; and 4) research watershed sites that are data sources.
Anticipated benefits of STEWARDS include preservation of data, increased data use, and facilitation of hydrological research within and across watersheds with diverse collaborators.