We’ve recently started looking into how much environmental data made available on the web is open in accordance with the Open Knowledge Definition. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has a Data Distribution Centre (DDC) – which is a good start to see what data is available. The DDC “offers access to baseline and scenario data for representing the evolution of climatic, socio-economic, and other environmental conditions”. Many datasets from research centres around the world are available from the centre.
The “Why does the DDC exist?” page states:
Data are being provided by the DDC over the World Wide Web. All research groups supplying datasets have agreed to these being in the public domain. The data are provided free of charge, but all users are requested to register to ensure both that the data are used for public scientific research rather than for commercial applications and also that they can be informed of possible modifications, additions and other new developments at the DDC.
It is unfortunate that the Centre is restricting commerical re-use of the datasets they provide – especially given that many important environmental datasets are produced by US government research groups and are effectively open.
These data are licensed for use in Research Projects only. A ‘Research Project’ is any project organised by a university, a scientific institute, or similar organisation (private or public), for non-commercial research purposes only. A necessary condition of the recognition of non-commercial purposes is that all the results obtained are openly available at delivery costs only, without any delay linked to commercial objectives, and that the research itself is submitted for open publication.
(As an aside: we’ve started an Open Environmental Data wiki page and we’d warmly welcome any contributions to this!)