In the waning days of 2016 and the Obama administration, researchers were warned to save the data, to back up climate measurements, to archive maps of America’s worst polluters, to document the education portals that teach students about ecosystems, recalls Victoria Herrmann, an Arctic researcher.
Since January, the initial surge of deletions of scientific data has slowed to an “incessant march of deleting datasets, webpages and policies about the Arctic,” warns Herrmann.
“At first, the distress flare of lost data came as a surge of defunct links on January 21. The US National Strategy for the Arctic, the Implementation Plan for the Strategy, and the report on our progress all gone within a matter of minutes,” Herrmann says. “As I watched more and more links turned red, I frantically combed the internet for archived versions of our country’s most important polar policies.”
Anticipating massive “data strangling” by Trump administration, scientists around the world copied as many files off of government sites as they could before they were altered or removed but “the federal government is a massive warehouse of information. Some data was bound to get left behind.”
“It is hard enough for modern Arctic researchers to perform experiments and collect data to fill the gaps left by historic scientific expeditions,” argues Herrmann. “While working in one of the most physically demanding environments on the planet, we don’t have time to fill new data gaps created by political malice.”