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Human Environment
Atlas Team


In October 2003, a broad spectrum of African marine and coastal experts met in Brussels , Belgium , to plan the ODINAFRICA 3 Framework, including a number of projects and deliverables building on the previous successes of earlier capacity-building efforts.  Although the principal focus of ODINAFRICA 3 was the establishment of “a Pan African Network of in situ coastal observing Stations providing Data to the African Ocean Data Information Network,” a significant portion of the efforts were also concerned with gathering, analyzing and synthesizing existing data into a carefully defined suite of data products for decision-makers, particularly geospatial atlases.  These ancillary activities are summarized in Annex I, and abstract of authorizing materials in the ODINAFRICA program plan.  It is clear from these materials that an atlas, or suite of atlases, was determined to be essential to ODINAFRICA 3.   During early 2006, the IODE Project Office synthesized existing atlas topic lists into a draft that was circulation among the ODINAFRICA 3 community for comments suggestions, based on extensive material provided, a Topical Outline was provided for use by this project.  Using that outline as a starting point, the AMA Editors mined known Internet sources for relevant datasets to include in AMA.


The atlas development took place over the course of one calendar year, and it included the following technical procedures: 

  1. Identify geographic Area of Interest (AOI) for the Atlas
  2. Organize and augment the topical outline into a true subject taxonomy
  3. Gather all available global data according to the agreed-upon scope of topics, geographic limits and temporal considerations, from online sources and published CD-ROMs
    • Due to the scope of available global datasets, national- and local-scale data are being deferred to a later stage
  4. Simultaneously identify all available metadata links and source location URLs
  5. Survey all gridded datasets (and some others, as necessary) for data value ranges to set standard image legend parameters
  6. Convert all data to appropriate GIS formats
    • Shapefiles for vector-type data
    • ASCII ArcGrids for gridded data and Level 3 satellite imagery
    • Geo-referenced images to accompany most arrays
  7. Clip all GIS files to the AOI
  8. Convert other data to desirable products (e.g. seasonal climatological grids/contours)
  9. Convert these products to the correct final GIS formats
  10. Create a browser interface (based on the subject taxonomy) to the GIS files, with parallel links to the available metadata files and source location URLs
  11. Publish the atlas on the Internet with a browser interface using a static HTML web
  12. PLANNED:  Publish the atlas on a Web Map Server
  13. PLANNED:  Publish the resultant browser-based atlas on DVD for dissemination to marine and coastal scientists
  14. PLANNED:  Produce a hardcopy publication


The African Marine Atlas is comprised of comprises of easily downloadable data on various key themes relevant to the marine and coastal environment of Africa.  They can readily used in many geographical information systems, including the most common commercial and public domain systems.  AMA also contains dataset descriptions and links to the original publisher and/or current source of the data, and links to pertinent metadata records, when available. This atlas is intended both to provide necessary datasets directly to concerned scientists, and to set the stage for the development of decision-makers' toolkits that rely on geospatial information.