At present the database contains 810 sites with fossil data and, as a separate entity, surface-sample data for approximately 800 localities (see later in this letter). During the past year data were added for 108 new sites (see map below), with major contributions from the Mediterranean region, Belarus and the north-westernmost part of Russia.

x = data submitted last year

Approximately 90% of the new additions are in unrestricted form. The AB has re-affirmed the "three-year rule" that specifies that contributors of restricted data are to be contacted after three years, and given the option (by positive response only) to continue the restriction. Without positive response the data become unrestricted. Restricted data are not available on web servers, but are available on disk by request (n.b. for viewing only, see protocol in this newsletter) from investigators to the central DB in Arles. Anyone wishing to see the full list of data in the EPD (both restricted and unrestricted) should either download the EPD from the internet server and then read the table "P_Entity" (which contains the data status and the name of the person responsible for the data) or contact the central DB. In addition to database access via the World Data Center-A in Boulder, during the past year the database was downloaded approximately 200 times from the MEDIAS web server in Toulouse (see addresses in the editorial). Only one request was received for data on disk.

The following data additions are expected:

Germany: Thanks to Prof. T. Litt, who coordinated the data collection in Germany last year, data for ten important sites are now being compiled and should be submitted to the EPD soon. The sites have good geographic distribution for this important region. All data will be in unrestricted form. Information about German pollen data can also be obtained from the Internationale PaläoKlima-DatenBank which is maintained at Hohenheim.

Iberian peninsula: Several new sites are being investigated in Spain and Portugal. Prospects are good for these data to be included in the EPD relatively soon. Given the many important scientific questions involving the Mediterranean region the addition of these new data from Spain and Portugal is of special significance. Last year 10 new sites were contributed by colleagues from the laboratory of Palynology of Barcelona (UAB).

Other news:

Chronologies: During the past year chronologies have been developed for approximately 320 sites, making a major step toward having the database in a form that is easily queried for research projects. Additional chronologies are now being developed at a rapid rate, thanks in part to the participation in database management of Simon Brewer who is working on a project involving the EPD (see later).

Pollen nomenclature: The database includes some 2700 taxa. Issues of nomenclature have been resolved for 1600 of these. The standardization of the nomenclature of the remaining 1100 taxa, primarily of the Russian flora, was completed in December 1997 by a working group consisting of Jacqueline van Leeuwen, Andrei Andreev, Jacques-Louis de Beaulieu, Pavel Tarasov and Rachid Cheddadi. These taxa have been included in the database list.

Potentially 'lost' data: The importance of ensuring the survival of major data-sets that were developed by colleagues who have now retired was emphasized. If anyone has access to such data sets and knows that the compilers are happy to have their data in the database, they are encouraged to arrange for its contribution

Pollen data from marine cores: The general issue has been raised as to whether or not data from marine cores should be included in the EPD. The consensus opinion is that such data are appropriate, so long as the pollen signal has potential for contributing to understanding of a terrestrial region. In some cases, ODP cores may be valuable because of chronologies already developed for other purposes. See: http://www-odp.tamu.edu/database

Pollen concentrations: The AB reminds and strongly encourages colleagues to include with their data complete information about sample size, exotic spike added, etc., in order that pollen concentrations (and hence pollen accumulation rates) may be calculated.