Since 1997, the EuroSOMNET project, funded by the EU-ENRICH programme, has assembled a metadatabase, and separate experimental databases, of European long-term experiments that investigate changes in soil organic matter. In this paper, we describe the WWW-based metadatabase, which is a product of this project. The database holds detailed records of 110 long-term soil organic matter experiments, giving a wide geographical coverage of Europe, and includes experiments from the European part of the former Soviet Union, many of which have not been available previously. For speed of access, records are stored as hyper-text mark-up language (HTML) files. In this paper, we describe the metadatabase, the experiments for which records are held, the information stored about each experiment, and summarize the main characteristics of these experiments. Details from the metadatabase have already been used to examine regional trends in soil organic matter in Germany and eastern Europe, to construct and calibrate a regional statistical model of humus balance in Russia, to examine the effects of climatic conditions on soil organic matter dynamics, to estimate the potential for carbon sequestration in agricultural soils in Europe, and to test and improve soil organic matter models. The EuroSOMNET metadatabase provides information applicable to a wide range of agricultural and environmental questions and can be accessed freely via the EuroSOMNET home page at URL: http://www.iacr.bbsrc.ac.uk/aen/eusomnet/index.htm.
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