Pan-European infrastructure for ocean & marine data management


29 October 2007

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The SeaDataNet Aims

SeaDataNet is developing a Pan-European infrastructure for Ocean and Marine Data management. It is supported by the European Commission within the 6th Framework Programme as an Integrated research Infrastructure Initiative (I3). Its focus is to give users an integrated access to data, meta-data, products and services. Therefore it offers facilities for data quality control, perennial safeguarding, and stewardship, retrieval and dissemination to both intermediate users (value adding organisations) and end-users of a large number of multidisciplinary data (i.e. temperature, salinity current, sea level, chemical, physical and biological properties). These data are collected by many different sensors installed on board of research vessels, satellite and various platforms of marine observing systems. The data are managed by National Oceanographic Data Centres (NODC) and marine focal centres, that are partners in SeaDataNet. The SeaDataNet infrastructure will interconnect these data centres and will give in a virtual way central access to these data sets via the SeaDataNet portal.

Major progress with the SeaDataNet CDI system

The Common Data Index (CDI) enables users to have a detailed insight of the availability and geographical spreading of marine data, archived at the participating SeaDataNet data centres and available for public use. It gives the description of the data sets  with key fields like Time, Position, Parameter, Source, Addresses for direct access etc, that can be extracted by every partner from their in-house data index systems. The CDI is compliant to the ISO 19115 standard for geo-catalogues.
The CDI was initially populated with a sample set of data sets. After some finetuning activities are now well underway to populate the CDI system with entries from all the SeaDataNet Data Centres. Already the CDI now contains references to more than 280.000 data sets. The CDI not only supports locating, but moreover also retrieving these data sets.

Users can search and browse in the CDI directory from the SeaDataNet website. Following the CDI meta data users can drill down to data access or submitting requests for data to individual data centres, thereby navigating through the proprietary web systems of the data centres.

In parallel good progress is being made with upgrading of the SeaDataNet system to Version 1, which will provide a transparent and uniform dialogue for users to locate and to retrieve data sets from the SeaDataNet partners.

International Polar Year 2007-2008 > an Integrated Programme of Science and Outreach

The International Polar Year 2007-2008, IPY, represents an ambitious coordinated international science programme focussed on both the Arctic and Antarctic and on the strong linkages between those regions and the rest of the globe.  The evidence of significant change already underway in polar regions, an urgent need to improve climate models and to confirm their polar predictions with observations, and the challenge of achieving an integrated understanding of geophysical - ecological - social systems, draw worldwide scientific attention to polar regions.

Polar research builds on a tradition of international scientific and logistic cooperation.  Three previous Polar Years, in 1882-3, 1932-3, and 1957-58 (the 1957-1958 Polar Year grew into the International Geophysical Year, IGY), each produced increases in scientific understanding of the Earth system.  They also changed international principles and practices of science itself and, after IGY, resulted in an unprecedented international political agreement, the Antarctic Treaty. 

Plans for this IPY have been developed by researchers in many countries.  More than 200 international projects, including more than 50 addressing education and outreach, have earned endorsement as IPY activities.  Implementing those projects will require the coordinated efforts of approximately 50,000 participants from more than 60 countries.  This IPY includes the geophysical disciplines (meteorology, astronomy, oceanography, glaciology, geology, and so on) of the previous years, but also includes biologists, ecologists, anthropologists, economists, linguists, physiologists and many other specialties – all the talents and skills needed to understand the integrated physical, biological and social systems of polar regions.  Perhaps most important, this IPY will attract, engage and develop a new generation of polar researchers.

One should expect substantial progress on several urgent issues during IPY: 

  1. Observations and modelling studies of IPY will quantify the extent, rate and impact of changing snow and ice environments in both polar regions, including three vital components of the climate system: sea ice, permafrost, and ice sheets;
  2. IPY research will enhance understanding of polar linkages to global processes, particularly in ocean and atmospheric circulation, sea level, and carbon cycles; and
  3. IPY research, guided by and in partnership with polar residents, will seek to understand the complex factors that determine individual and community well-being in the face of extraordinary environmental and social change.

IPY represents a unique opportunity to push collectively at intellectual frontiers, to explore unseen places, to develop new concepts and theories, and to set the stage for predictions, assessments, recommendations, and future discovery through international collaboration and partnership, with a stronger emphasis on interdisciplinary research including physical and social sciences, indigenous communities, and educators.  IPY can engage the public with an exciting, broad and diverse scientific investigation and stimulate an improved social dialogue on global scientific issues.

Like IPY science, IPY Education and Outreach occurs on many levels. These include activities contained within the individual IPY science projects, national and regional activities by polar and scientific organizations and institutions, and large public polar outreach events.  Through international cooperation, individuals and groups can ensure that IPY science remains at the centre of outreach and can develop networks and partnerships among teachers, aspiring researchers, and early career scientists that will enhance polar awareness in the long term.

Major IPY international outreach activities include:

  1. The IPY website ( designed to allow many IPY participants to contribute a diverse array of stories and news about IPY research;
  2. International Polar Days that focus on a different aspect of polar research approximately every three months and include activities and material for educators, press, and scientists; and
  3. A Polar Ambassadors programme to develop material and information that enables teachers, students, tourists, artists, scientists, and other polar enthusiasts to learn more about IPY and the polar regions and to share this information within their communities.

Coordination, catalysis, and communication of science, education and outreach activities around the world should allow the International Polar Year 2007-2008 to have an enhanced impact on scientific understanding and public appreciation of the polar regions.

Dave Carlson, IPY IPO Director
Rhian Salmon, IPY Education and Outreach Coordinator

International Polar Year Data Management

The International Polar Year 2007/2008 (IPY), co-sponsored by the International Council of Science and the World Meteorological Organization, started less than 6 months ago and already proves to be a huge success.

The fourth IPY covers all earth and environmental sciences, as well as, for the first time (!), social sciences and humanities.

IPY will result in an unprecedented insight into the functioning of the polar ecosystems and the role of the polar regions in the global climate. However, the real value of IPY may become apparent in a more distant future, since IPY aims to be starting point of large circumpolar observation systems, which will continue to be operational long after the end date of this IPY.

Right from the start, the data set resulting from IPY was considered to be the most important legacy of this IPY, or, in the words of the IPY Framework Document:
“In fifty years time the data resulting from IPY 2007-2008 may be seen as the most important single outcome of the programme”
“These data … will act as benchmark data which can serve as a baseline against which global change is measured”

IPY is producing an unprecedented and very diverse collection of physical, life, and social science data from the Polar Regions. The data include in-situ and remote sensing data, as well as model output. These data, when combined with the IPY objectives of interdisciplinary science and international exchange, present a huge data management challenge and opportunity to greatly enhance international data management collaboration.

To ensure the proper preservation of all IPY data, the overarching IPY Joint Committee established the IPY Subcommittee for Data Policy and Management. One of its first activities was to finalize the IPY Data Policy.

The central clause of the IPY Data Policy (full text can be found at reads:

“In accordance with

 - the Twelfth WMO Congress, Resolution 25 and 40 (Cg-XII, 1995)
 - the ICSU 1996 General Assembly Resolution
 - the ICSU Assessment on Scientific Data and Information (ICSU 2004b)
 - Article III-1c from the Antarctic Treaty
 - the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Data Exchange Policy

and in order to maximize the benefit of data gathered under the auspices of the IPY, the IPY Joint Committee requires that IPY data, including operational data delivered in real time, are made available fully, freely and on the shortest feasible timescale.”

The IPY Data Committee also conducted a survey to establish the data management needs and available resources for all IPY projects. This was one of the initial steps to set up the IPY Data and Information Service or IPYDIS. The IPYDIS is a loose international federation of data repositories, observatories, networks, and data management experts. Work continues to develop the IPYDIS and involve established discipline-based and World Data Centres.

It is generally accepted that inventories with data set descriptions form the first phase in data preservation and are necessary to allow (future) re-use of the data. To achieve this and to build an IPY data inventory, an IPY metadata profile was developed. This IPY metadata profile is fully compliant with existing standards as the ISO 19115 and the FGDC and DIF standards, of course. This also makes it compliant with EDMED.

Meanwhile, the Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) built a dedicated IPY portal and populated this with existing IPY related datasets from the GCMD data holdings. The DocBuilder interface was adapted to accommodate the new IPY metadata profile.
Thus all systems are ready to start receiving data set descriptions of newly acquired IPY data sets.

Given the diversity of disciplines and thus data types, the various discipline based data management communities are called upon to be involved and to take care of the IPY data management in their respective disciplines.
The endorsement and encouraging words by Catharine Maillard on behalf of SeaDataNet are greatly appreciated.
The IPY Data Subcommittee has no intention to ‘re-invent the wheel’ and will make use of all the expertise and experience which is so abundantly present in our communities.
This means for instance that IPY, even though it did develop (slightly new) Metadata Profile (in order to have a discovery tool to cover all disciplines), will make use of existing controlled vocabularies, such as the ones the SeaDataNet Technical Task Team is developing for oceanography.

All NODCs are welcome to join the IPDIS and thus become even more involved.  More information may be found at:

Mark Parsons, IPY Data Subcommittee co-chair,
Taco de Bruin, IPY Data Subcommittee co-chair,

International Conference IMDIS 2008 – 2nd Announcement

Athens (Greece) March 31- April 2, 2008

Second Call for Papers

The Conference aims at providing an in depth analysis of the existing information on marine environmental data,  showing the progresses on development of efficient infrastructures for managing large and diverse data sets, comparing different information systems, exploring the applicability of new information technologies, establishing long term international cooperation.

The Conference will present different systems for on-line access to data, meta-data and products, communication standards and adapted technology to ensure platforms interoperability. Sessions will focus on infrastructures, technologies and services for different users: environmental authorities, research, schools, universities, etc.

Program of the Conference

Two introductory talks will provide an historical excursus on data collection/management systems and long term availability of marine data.

The Conference will be organised in four sessions:

  • Marine environmental data bases: infrastructures, metadata and data systems
    – Coastal and deep-sea operational oceanography information systems
    – Physical and bio-chemical data bases for climate studies
    – Geophysical and geological data bases
    - Fishery and ecosystem information systems
  • Standards and interoperability
    – Standards and quality-assurance issues for geo-referenced data
    – Network, technology and security
    - Relational data bases and other technologies for marine data management
    - Interoperability and harmonisation of geo-spatial data
  • User Oriented services and products
    - Discovery, Viewing and Downloading Services
    - Mapping Services
  • Data Bases and Tools for Education
    – Data collection and management systems for educational purposes
    – Tools for dissemination to students

Papers will be selected to present main topics and different technological solutions and applications, promote discussions among different communities of developers and users.

Posters showing infrastructures, technologies, services for accessing information and data in distributed systems will be selected.

Abstract submission

Extended abstract (1 – 2 pages) must be submitted through SeaDataNet web pages (

Deadline for submission of papers and posters: December 30, 2007.

Place and Dates of the Conference

The Conference will be held in Athens, Zappeion Exhibition and Congress Hall, from March 31 to April 2, 2008. Further information is provided through the SeaDataNet web pages (


Pre-registration form can accessed through the SeaDataNet web pages ( The deadline for registration is February 1, 2008. Cancellation of registration has to be done before March 1, 2008.

Registration can be done also in the Zappeion Conference Hall on March 30, 2008 from h 14.30 to 17.30 and on March 31, 2008 from 08.00 – to 09.00.

Registration fee is Euro 50 for participants registered before February 1, 2008 and 75 Euro for participants registered after this date.
Registration fee for students and accompanying persons is Euro 25.

Fee will be paid cash directly to the local organisers in the Zappeion Center.

Organising Committee

Efstathios Balopoulos, Chair – HCMR Greece
Catherine Maillard – Ifremer France
Gilbert Maudire – Ifremer France
Giuseppe M.R. Manzella – ENEA Italy
Dick Schaap – MARIS The Netherlands
Lesley Rickards – NERC UK
Vladimir Vladymyrov – IOC Unesco
Reiner Schlitzer – AWI Germany
Friedrich Nast – BSH Germany
Michele Fichaut – Ifremer France
Jean-Marie Beckers – ULG Belgium
Nadia Pinardi – INGV Italy
Vittorio Barale – JRC EU
Nickolay Mikhailov – RIHMI Russia

International Scientific Committee

Giuseppe M.R. Manzella, Chair – Italy
Catherine Maillard – France
Efstathios Balopoulos – Greece
Robert Keeley – Canada
Sydney Levitus – USA
Lin Shaohua – China
Steve Groom - UK
Gilbert Maudire – France
Dick Schaap – The Netherlands
Lesley Rickards – UK
Vladimir Vladymyrov – IOC Unesco
Reiner Schlitzer – Germany
Friedrich Nast – Germany
Jean-Marie Beckers – Belgium
Nadia Pinardi – Italy
Vittorio Barale – EU
Nickolay Mikhailov – Russia
Michele Fichaut - France

HCMR Local Organising Committee

Sissy Iona
Angelos Lykiardopoulos
Pelos Karagevrekis
Anna Mavriki
Constandina Balomenou
Vassilis Lakes


International Research Cruise Information website launched with support of SeaDataNet

A joint initiative by Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) and Census of Marine Life (CoML) with financial support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, CoML and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has launched a new database and website to support more efficient use of ocean-going research vessels, and pooling and combining resources for mutual tuning of planned cruises. The website provides public access to 3 databases, that are maintained in cooperation with the POGO member research institutes and operators of large research vessels worldwide. The databases cover:

  • Characteristics of Research Vessels
  • Planned Research Cruise programmes
  • Cruise Summary Reports of executed cruises

The technical development and facilities for maintenance and web publishing are provided by a subgroup of the SeaDataNet consortium together with EurOcean. The cooperation between POGO and SeaDataNet will ensure an efficient use of resources and the development of global standards.

Please visit the new website at