UC Davis students are taking part in a "Data Rescue" event designed to backup and archive federally-hosted databases related to climate and environmental science.
The Data Refuge Project is a nationwide effort designed to ensure that federal climate and environmental data remain available to the public. President Donald Trump’s administration scrubbed mentions of climate change from the White House website, and some scientists fear more critical data could disappear from federal websites.
Students involved in the “Data Rescue” event say data could be vulnerable if a federal agency is restructured or a federal program loses funding.
"Donald Trump has already said that he plans to do that with the Department of Energy, with EPA,” says Nick Santos, a UC Davis researcher.
“If that happens and the stewards of these datasets disappear because their programs disappear, the data itself could disappear and then we could also have continuity gaps in the data," says Santos.
MacKenzie Smith, the librarian for UC Davis, says archiving federal databases is not an overreaction to a new administration. She says website content can often change or disappear, and with it, a part of history.
“I think it's really important that we kind of educate everybody that this is a huge societal problem that we need to think about," says Smith.
Students worked with computer programmers to learn how to archive databases on both the federal EPA and Department of Energy websites. Efforts nationwide to rescue data are coordinated so there is no replication.
Another data rescue event is scheduled at UC Berkeley next week.