The African Marine Atlas was developed as a Pan-African regional product providing access to maps, images, data and information to a wide range of users at the regional scale.
The atlas currently comprises :(i) a static website hosted by the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange programme. The site contains over 800 downloadable data products in the fields of marine geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, geopolitical and the human socio-economic dimensions. In addition, basemap themes are provided to give spatial reference to the other data layers.(ii) Mapserver demonstration site which was developed by the atlas team as a training and data dissemination exercise. This uses a sub-set of the data in the static site.Though continent-wide products maybe of coarse scale and their utility for management purposes limited, they are still of interest and provide useful information. There is a great need for products at national level, and for trans-boundary issues at sub-regional level, possibly based on LMEs. The next focus is to provide a comprehensive resource for coastal and marine information at the regional, national and local scale. AMA will provide an overview of topics related to African marine and coastal areas, as well as an interactive atlas where the user can select map layers from various organisations to view and query. AMA will also allow the user to search for available layers, view metadata, and in most cases download data. The shift from a continental scale atlas to a regional and national atlas will require data with a higher resolution.The next version of the African Marine Atlas will be an online mapping application based on Web Map Services (WMS), an OpenGIS international standard that produces maps of spatially referenced data dynamically from geographic information. AMA will use MapServer, an open source development environment for building spatially-enabled internet applications. The use of a standards complaint web mapping application will ensure interoperability with other atlas development projects in Africa.The African Marine Atlas will form part of an international network of marine and coastal atlases. The International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN) is a newly-founded informal group of organizations who have been meeting over the past two years to scope and implement data interoperability approaches to coastal web atlases (CWAs). The mission/strategic aim of ICAN is to share experiences and to find common solutions to CWA development whilst ensuring maximum relevance and added value for the end users. The long-term view is for global level operational interoperability which will evolve as the ICAN community strives to increase awareness of the opportunities that exist for increased coastal and marine data sharing among policy makers and resource managers as strategic users of a CWA. IODE is a participating institution in ICAN and through this association other ICAN members will be invited to assist ODINAFRICA-IV with expertise to develop national as well as sub-regional and regional atlas products. In addition the âCoordination Centre for Integrated Coastal Zone Managementâ will be invited to assist with optimization of the mapping products to ensure they are user-friendly and address the needs of the user audiences.Article by Lucy Scott ([email protected]), UNDP/GEF ASCLME Project
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