By Kjersti Turøy
“The institute has lots of time series, and with the SJØMIL database we want to make it easier to access some of them. Instead of having to contact the institute and the individual researcher, you can now go to the database yourself and find what you are looking for,” says Jan Erik Stiansen, the scientist responsible for setting up the database.
Many time series collected in one place
In the SJØMIL database we have collected many of our most frequently-used series, as well as various series from ICES. At the moment we are providing climate data such as temperature and salinity, as well as the size and age structure of fish stocks. In the future we also hope to provide monitoring data relating to plankton, pollution, seals and whales.
The data is generally collected by our research vessels, and is stored in the institute’s databases, which are the responsibility of the Norwegian Marine Data Centre (NMD) research group. NMD manages Norway’s largest collection of data on the marine environment and fisheries, and works on collecting, quality assuring and storing the data, as well as making it available to researchers. Two staff members from the NMD has been central in the development of Sjømil.The database and user interface is developed by Sjur Ringheim Lid, and Kjell Bakkeplass is responsible for data management.
Making it easier to access data
“We then calculate indexes to show how this observation data has changed over time. These index series, as we call them, are made up of aggregated data for an area, or an average,” explains Stiansen. This is the first time these time series are being made available to the general public online. The hope is that it will make it far easier for researchers, and other people who are interested, to get hold of time series, which they themselves can then analyse for relationships in the ecosystem.
Fish stock data from ICES
Each year, ICES (The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas) assesses the current status of many of our most important fish stocks, and gives advice on harvesting them sustainably. This generates a historic record of how the stocks are doing in terms of the total number of fish, numbers of sexually mature fish, their age distribution and fishing pressure on the various species.
“Although these time series are published in various reports, it hasn’t been very easy to get hold of the actual numbers. That’s why the Institute of Marine Research is proud to have been given permission by ICES to publish this data online in an easily accessible format,” says Stiansen.
He hopes that the database will make it easier to discover some of the small and big secrets that nature keeps hidden from us.
“SJØMIL will be a dynamic database. For the moment we have only published a fairly limited number of time series, but we are working very hard to increase that number in the near future,” he concludes.