New platform helps earth scientists manage and share data
An EU-funded project has developed a virtual research environment to help the earth sciences community manage its research life cycles and to share knowledge. The new e-infrastructure platform provides easy access to vast amounts of data and tools, boosting researchers productivity and creativity.
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Earth sciences cover a range of related subjects. Scientists working in areas such as climatology, oceanology and geology produce vast amounts of data about the planet every year. However, in such a diverse field, it is not always easy to preserve the results of research activities or to share knowledge with peers and policymakers.
The EU-funded EVER-EST project has implemented a solution to this problem based on research objects (RO) technology. ROs help manage research life cycles, allowing scientists and operational users to preserve and share data, models, workflows and results on issues such as climate change, the threat from natural hazards and the sustainable use of natural resources. EVER-EST is the first e-infrastructure service to use ROs in observational rather than experimental disciplines.
EVER-EST provides stakeholders with all the services necessary to fulfil their research activities and to preserve and share scientific data and processes, says project coordinator Mirko Albani from the European Space Agency. We have developed a user interface, along with data-detection services, cloud access and processing facilities, which build on more than 15 years of research and development in the field of earth sciences.
The projects virtual environment supports researchers from the beginning of their work through to publication of their findings. In addition, the platform allows data providers to monitor user experiences and collect feedback.
EVER-ESTs tools and technologies were validated through four virtual research communities (VRCs). Each community explored ways in which the project could help them perform their research activities and share resources, expertise and outcomes.
Bio-marine researchers formed a sea monitoring community which used EVER-EST to evaluate variables that can define good environmental standards, as laid down in the EUs Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Foreign and security policy institutions came together in a land monitoring VRC which crunched earth observation data to assess environmental change and its potential impact on policymaking.
Meanwhile, a natural hazards community employed EVER-EST to inform forecasting systems. Finally, disaster and risk management teams came together in a supersites VRC to look at data concerning the modelling of seismic and volcanic activity.
The EVER-EST platform implements the FAIR Data Principles of the EUs European Open Science Cloud, namely to make data findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.
The project team aims to keep the platform going and is seeking to diversify its user profile. We are working on a business model that includes new partnerships, with external stakeholders also playing a role, explains Albani. We want to get more user communities involved, including from sectors that are not related to earth sciences we believe the platform is flexible enough to be used in many other fields.