John C. Butler
Department of Geosciences
University of Houston
Houston, TX 77204
About a year ago I began to keep track of geoscience resources on the Internet and it became apparent that the word „virtual¾ was appearing more and more frequently as it seemed to capture one of the fascinating aspects of the web. One of the first „virtual¾ geosciences sites that I recall seeing was the „Virtual Geomorphologist¾ produced by Dr. Zbigniew Zwolinski of the Quaternary Research Institute at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan Poland. In keeping with our desire to broaden the contributions of the column to the readership, we have asked Dr. Zwolinski to describe the Polish Geoscience Resources on the World Wide Web.
Polish Geoscience Resources on the WWW.
The history of the Polish Internet is a short one. The first network connection, between Warsaw and Copenhagen, took place in September 1991, and in December of that year, between Warsaw and the USA. The first Polish WWW page was presented to the world Internet community less than 2.5 years ago, on 20 October 1993. By the end of February 1996, there were about 30,000 hosts in the Polish Internet branch, and some 270,000 users. It should be emphasized, however, that the number of Polish computers joining the Internet has been growing exponentially in the recent months. 77% of Internet users in Poland have higher education, and the largest group (32%) includes people aged between 30 and 39. If we keep in mind that there are nearly 10 million hosts in the world (2.5 million in Europe) linked to the Internet and serving some 50 million users, then our network resources look very modest indeed. And so they are, especially in the field of geosciences.
A comprehensive reference to scientific resources and organizations in Poland is located on WWW site Science in Poland.
A characteristic feature of the existing Polish pages for geoscience resources is the production of various lists of links to world network resources located in North America, Europe and Australia. In this respect we are not much different from other nations.
Among the scientific institutions that have their home pages at present (March 1996) are: Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences (PAS) , Institute of Geophysics, PAS, Warsaw, Faculty of Geography and Geology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan , , Faculty of Geosciences, Silesian University, Sosnowiec , Institute of Geography, Pedagogical University, Cracow, (Institute of Oceanography, University of Gdansk, Gdansk , Department of Geodesy and Photogrammetry, University of Agriculture, Wroclaw .
All these pages present lists of staff and organisational structures of these units, and possibly their research programs and recent publications. Only the Institute of Oceanology offers a review of the latest issues of its journals. None of the pages offers its own information for internauts. Against this background, the home pages of Astronomical Observatories in Poland look extremely rich: Torun, Cracow), Poznan), Wroclaw, and Warsaw as well as Comets and Meteors Workshop. In the Polish branch of the Internet there are no pages of state services as yet. Their sole representative is the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management, Maritime Branch in Gdynia , which presents a diagram of its organisational structure. There is not so much information about environmental protection in Poland except short descriptions of the Biosphere Reserves, the concept The Green Lungs of Poland and an article entitled "Database of State Environmental Monitoring".
There is a branch of the Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), which provides elementary information about Poland's environment (Poland Country Guide) on the basis of such publication as "State of Environment in Poland" (R. Andrzejewski & M. Baranowski, Eds., 1993). In the "Polish Home Page" you can find some links to descriptions of a few regions and towns of Poland. There is a one WWW site with information about Polish caves
Out of scientific organizations, only the Association of Polish Geomorphologists (APG) has established its own WWW server .Apart from internal information: the Constitution, Organisational structure, Directory of members, information about the last Congress, and best Ph.D. Thesis contest, this server gives several links of international importance: News, Conferences, Virtual Geomorphology, and Useful links. The last two links are especially popular. The first is an electronic manual of geomorphology whose structure is based on the following chapters: Geomorphological systems, Theoretical geomorphology, Structural geomorphology, Dynamic geomorphology, Global changes in geomorphology, Biogeomorphology, Historical geomorphology, Planetary geomorphology, Regional geomorphology, Applied geomorphology, GIS in geomorphology, Study methods in geomorphology and Supplement. Each chapter contains links to geomorphological articles scattered throughout the world, even in such remote places as Indonesia or the Republic of South Africa. Useful Links - approved by Clearinghouse for Subject-Oriented Internet Resource Guides - is a list of links arranged in the following sections: Geomorphological organizations, Related institutions, Information and data, On-line publications, Libraries and indexes, Publishers, Education, Newsgroups, GeoWWWservers, Search engines. In each section there are links to servers which a geomorphologist, geologist, or geoscientist in general, can find useful in his/her everyday research and educational work. APG offers unique, interactive pages with a set of servers around the world that deal with karst phenomena and speleological issues.
The most popular WWW site in the Polish Internet in the field of geoscience is "The Great Globe Gallery on the World Wide Web - 3G on W3 , awarded and cited by many Internet sites. This collection consists of various maps, globes, thematic and historical maps, cartographic grids in various projections, satellite images, movies, artificial globes, icons and artistic visions of the Earth. There are examples of the Globe's presentation for educational purposes in teaching Earth science, geography, cartography, and Geographic Information Systems.
The only commercial firm in the Polish network is Jason MacKenzie Sp. z o.o., which provides a variety of services in the areas of automated mapping and facilities management systems (AM/FM) for the power distribution market, land information systems for local governments, and environmental monitoring systems.
Of non-Polish projects, worth mentioning are two research programs concerning the Baltic Sea (in which Poland takes part), namely BALTEX- The Baltic Sea Experiment and the Baltic Drainage Basin Project which is an on-line database, mainly GIS-based. The above review may not cover all the existing network resources for geoscientists that are located in Poland, but it certainly makes it clear that there is much to be done in this matter. Hopefully, after the period of creating pages with links to other servers, the time will soon come when Polish internauts start generating pages with their own information about Poland's environment.
Since January 27, 1997Return
March 27, 1996