Skip to Main Content
The First ISLSCP Field Experiment (FIFE) collected approximately 120 GB of data from a 15 x 15-km area in central Kansas during 1987-1989. A wide range of physical, meteorological, biological, and pedological observations were made at frequent intervals at numerous ground locations. Coincident with this, a variety of remote sensing instruments mounted on airborne and satellite platforms were used to probe the area. The goal of understanding and modeling the effects of vegetation on the heat and mass fluxes in the atmospherelland surface boundary layer required a flexible and responsive information system with georeferenced data to permit coordinated analyses. The FIFE information system was developed to serve the FIFE investigators as a tool for designing the experiment and for organizing and manipulating the complex data set. Fulfilling these functions on an experiment-driven timeline led to abandoning the classical sequential development paradigm of software engineering in favor of a more responsive and broadly based approach. The design, development, and operation of the information system supporting the experiment had to be flexible and under direct day-to-day control of scientistlusers. Because of the organization around scientific requirements, the system was able to incorporate diverse data types in a systematic way as they became available, to add scientific rigor by identifying data gaps at an early stage, and to provide real-time quality assurance. These factors are important for designing and building future data bases and long-term information systems to support interdisciplinary scientific research.