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    An essential pattern of Grid computing is the virtualisation of resources. The NERC DataGrid (NDG) is a UK e-Science project that will provide discovery of, and virtualised access to, a wide variety of climate and earth-system science data. We present an overview of key elements of the NDG architecture beginning with the NDG metadata taxonomy for various information categories. Architecture components include: federation of discovery metadata exploiting the harvesting protocols of the Open Archives Initiative; a domain ontology to support navigation of data relationships during search and discovery; data storage transparency achieved through a wrapper mechanism and a data model based on emerging ISO standards for spatial data; and finally, a role-based authorisation framework which interfaces with existing access control infrastructures and supports mappings between credentials to establish networks of trust.