Science and Implementation Plan: Chapter 7

Management Plan


The focal point of WAIS within the science community is the WAIS Working Group. It is composed of a scientist-representative from each relevant field and four at-large members (see page vi). The primary roles of the Working Group members are to promote WAIS throughout the domestic and international scientific communities, to organize and conduct annual workshops, and to maintain a current profile of plans and accomplishments of the project.

Ultimate management authority of WAIS will come from NSF/OPP and is likely to involve the Polar Glaciology Program, the Polar Earth Sciences Program, the Polar Oceans and Climate Program, and the Polar Biology Program. The WAIS Working Group does not advise, recommend, or participate in any funding decisions. Proposals received by NSF/OPP undergo merit review in the standard manner. As WAIS investigations proceed, it is possible that a sharper interface between the scientists and NSF/OPP utilizing a single point-of-contact for both groups will be deemed more effective.

To date, activities under the WAIS aegis have proceeded in an ad- hoc manner. Investigations which satisfy some aspect of the WAIS Science Plan have been identified as WAIS activities. In the absence of specific funding for WAIS, financial support has been garnered from individual OPP program offices. OPP is encouraged to continue its search for dedicated funds and the WAIS Working Group will contribute its energy to this endeavor. An annually updated WAIS Implementation Plan is intended to assist OPP in its short- and long-range planning to ensure that the special requirements of WAIS are properly identified in terms of both logistic and financial support.

WAIS membership and attendance at all its workshops is open. At least one workshop is anticipated each year to present results and update the Implementation Plan. The membership of the WAIS Working Group is by election at the annual workshop. It is anticipated that an additional meeting of the Working Group will take place each year to maintain the course of the project.


The results of the WAIS project will have a broader reach, both today and in the future, with the inclusion of a robust data managementprogram and long-term archival of the data sets. A central location to coordinate the archiving and data management should be considered. This center could support the broad dissemination of the results of the initiative to the polar science community, and provide stewardship of certain data sets for an extended period for future analysis. In some cases, it may be most efficient to house the data itself at the central facility; in others, the data should reside at the institution of the principal investigator, with only the metadata (data description, catalog, calibrations, etc.) going to the data center.

In many ways, the WAIS program intends to provide a reference point for future observations of the ice sheet and its environment. The glaciology, climate, and oceanography of the WAIS may be in the process of rapid change (one of the major tenets of the initiative), and remeasurement in the future is to be expected. As such, long-term, reliable data archiving of the WAIS field data is essential so that future evaluations of the ice sheet have a firm, well-documented reference point for comparison. This approach also yields the maximum societal benefit from the logistical and scientific research support NSF provides for Antarctic research.

Data management policy for the WAIS should focus on dissemination of the collected data to the broad community within a reasonable period after its collection. Along with the release of the data should be the associated metadata, such as field locations, calibrations, format descriptions, and supporting documents so that any present or future researcher in the field can make full use of the information the data contains.