, Volume 761, Issue 1, pp 97–119 | Cite as

A first overview of open access digital data for the Ross Sea: complexities, ethics, and management opportunities

  • Falk Huettmann
  • Moritz Sebastian Schmid
  • Grant Richard Woodrow Humphries


It is now understood that the Ross Sea stands as one of the last relatively pristine (ocean) areas. Many decades of international research have been carried out under the Antarctic Treaty System stipulating that data acquired under this scheme must be shared with the global community. In line with Carlson (Nature 469:293, 2011, Polar Research  10.3402/polar.v32i0.20789, 2013), we find little evidence of enforcement towards making digital geographic information systems (GIS) project data available online for the wider Ross Sea ecosystem. While it is possible to find easily >40 digital datasets for most areas and pixels worldwide, despite many decades of research in the Ross Sea, only app. 100 digital datasets can be found for the study area. It simply shows that data from many studies in the region are not available. High-quality population and trend data explicit in space and time are mostly missing in the public realm, e.g., from the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources ( This presents an ethical dilemma because it still appears that sufficient data exist for a pro-active and pre-cautionary management of this region. No coherent and efficient management scheme truly exists and is applied for this precious part of the world now heavily affected by global stressors and mismanagement of data and resources.


Ross Sea Open access data Geographic information system (GIS) Digitalization Globalization Wilderness 



This work is based on the concept put forth by the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), International Polar Year (IPY), and its visionaries. We owe much of this work to people and agencies who pushed for sharing data and frameworks like freedom of information such as Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA), Arctic Ocean Diversity (ArcOD), and the Global Primate Network (GPN). Specifically, L. Spears, B. Raymond, B. Danis, D. Carson, B. Bluhm, A.W. Diamond, J. Evans, H. Beier, L. Koever, J. Athayde, and the QGIS community should be acknowledged for their efforts, courage, and kind communications in helping and developing this project. This is EWHALE lab publication # 122.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Falk Huettmann
    • 1
  • Moritz Sebastian Schmid
    • 2
  • Grant Richard Woodrow Humphries
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.EWHALE Lab, Biology and Wildlife Department, Institute of Arctic BiologyUniversity of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF)FairbanksUSA
  2. 2.Takuvik Joint International Laboratory UMI3376, Département de biologie and Québec-OcéanUniversité Laval, QuébecQuébecCanada
  3. 3.Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and BehaviorUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA
  4. 4.Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem ResearchPetalumaUSA

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