Relational databases as a tool to manage environmental data at the research plot scale

TitleRelational databases as a tool to manage environmental data at the research plot scale
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2002
AuthorsErickson, T., and Donahue D.
Conference Name70th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 70th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedMay 2002
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationGranby, Colorado
KeywordsRelational database, Environmental data, Mammoth Mountain, Meteorological data

Relational databases management systems (RDBMS) can be used as highly effective storage systemsenvironmental data. RDBMS are most suited to storing large volumes of repetitive data. RDBMS offer significantadvantages over data storage methods (such as ASCII text files or spreadsheet programs) by offering flexibility in the types of information stored, speed of retrieval, and the ability to share data with other computer programs. Information contained in RDBMS can be accessed through desktop programs or may be distributed over the Internet. However, RDBMS may not be appropriate for all types of collected data, especially when the format ofthe data changes frequently. Snow hydrology data can be efficiently stored in a RDBMS, particularly if many repetitive measurements aremade in time or in space, such as automated meteorological measurements obtained from data loggers. Intelligently designed RDBMS link metadata to the collected data and allow scientists to analyze and store comments on the quality of the data. Design issues encountered during the processes of data modeling, database design, and data distribution are described. Examples are taken from the currently operational Mammoth Mountain Energy Balance Monitoring Site database and a sample data model created to store information on Western Snow Conference(WSC) members and papers.