ESA leads endeavour to save Earth Science data

Mar 10, 2008

The amount of information being generated about our planet is increasing at an exponential rate, but it must be easily accessible in order to apply it to the global needs relating to the state of the Earth.

GENESI-DR (Ground European Network for Earth Science Interoperations - Digital Repositories), an ESA-led, European Commission (EC)-funded two-year project, is taking the lead in providing reliable, easy, long-term access to Earth Science data via the Internet.

"We shall soon be receiving petabytes of data about our planet from space, so data access will be a major logistical problem. The EC has funded GENESI-DR as a flagship project in Europe to help meet this challenge," said Prof. Alan O'Neill, Director of the National Centre for Earth Observation at the University of Reading.

GENESI-DR will allow scientists from different Earth Science disciplines located across Europe to locate, access, combine and integrate historical and fresh Earth-related data from space, airbourne and in-situ sensors archived in large distributed repositories.

Currently, information about the state of the Earth, relevant services, analysis results, applications and tools are accessible in a very scattered and uncoordinated way, often through individual initiatives from Earth Observation mission operators, scientific institutes dealing with ground measurements, service companies, data catalogues, etc.

A dedicated infrastructure providing transparent access to all this will support Earth Science communities by allowing them to easily and quickly derive objective information and share knowledge based on all environmentally sensitive domains.

The use of high-speed networks (GÉANT) and the experimentation of new technologies, like BitTorrent, will also contribute to better services for the Earth Science communities.

In order to reach its objectives, the GENESI-DR e-Infrastructure will be validated against user needs for accessing and sharing Earth Science data. Initially, four specific applications in the land, atmosphere and marine domains have been selected, including:

-- Near real time orthorectification for agricultural crops monitoring
--Urban area mapping in support of emergency response
-- Data assimilation in GlobModel, addressing major environmental and health issues in Europe, with a particular focus on air quality
-- SeaDataNet to aid environmental assessments and to forecast the physical state of the oceans in near real time.

Other applications will complement this during the second half of the project.

"Data assimilation makes use of the diverse observational data now available to us and synthesises them into a coherent picture of the evolving state of the planet - a digital rendition of the real world," said O’Neill, who is working on GlobModel and GENESI-DR.

"No institution has all the skills in one place, but must be drawn from university and operational institutions distributed across many countries. With this objective in mind for Europe, ESA funded the GlobModel project and GENESI-DR could represent the way to ensure easy access to all necessary data and resources."

GENESI-DR also aims to develop common approaches to preserve the historical archives and the ability to access the derived user information as both software and hardware transformations occur.

Ensuring access to Earth Science data for future generations is of utmost importance because it allows for the continuity of knowledge generation improvement. For instance, scientists accessing today’s climate change data in 50 years will be able to better understand and detect trends in global warming and apply this knowledge to ongoing natural phenomena.

GENESI-DR will work towards harmonising operations and applying approved standards, policies and interfaces at key Earth Science data repositories. To help with this undertaking, GENESI-DR will establish links with the relevant organisations and programmes such as space agencies, institutional environmental programmes, international Earth Science programmes and standardisation bodies.

From an industry point of view, Stefano Beco, the Innovation and Advanced Applications Group Manager for Elsag Datamat, one of the Directors of the project, said the project’s infrastructure, which is based on state-of-the-art technologies such as Grid, will pave the way for them introducing new services in the Earth Science domain from a scientific and commercial viewpoint.

"We believe that GENESI-DR will push towards an easily accessible 'virtual repository', where an extremely large set of valuable scientific information will be available to small and medium enterprises and large companies, providing benefits to different actors, from data providers to service providers to end users," Beco said.

Source: European Space Agency

Explore further: Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

1 hour ago

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

1 hour ago

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Under some LED bulbs whites aren't 'whiter than white'

1 hour ago

For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different ...

Recommended for you

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

Apr 18, 2014

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

User comments : 0

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.