Contributing to global change science: the ethics, obligations and opportunities of working with palaeoenvironmental databases
Evaluation of the performance of climate models under climates that are radically different from today is an integral and important component of global change research; palaeoenvironmental data are essential to this evaluation. Evaluation data must necessarily be available in the form of large-scale data syntheses. Given the interdisciplinary nature of global change research, it is important that these large-scale syntheses are transparent to the user. Maps must be constructed so that the location of the primary data points is apparent, and accompanied by adequate metadata and sufficient documentation to allow users to estimate the magnitude of interpretative uncertainties. International database activities have made the construction of several large-scale syntheses possible. Nevertheless, practical and ethical difficulties continue to hamper the creation of global syntheses. Continued discussion is required to ensure that these difficulties are ultimately overcome.