Friday, 16 October 2015

We value your feedback

The British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) is reviewing our website and data delivery mechanisms. We are inviting feedback from the marine data user community about their preferences and experiences of searching and interacting with marine data holdings, both in general and more specifically those managed by the BODC.

BODC web site ©
The survey can be accessed through the following link:

We hope to use this feedback to improve our ability to provide our holdings to those who wish to access and use marine data.

You are invited to take a short online survey of up to 15 questions, which should take between 10 and 15 minutes to complete. Feedback will be collected anonymously but you are invited to provide contact details if there are any aspects you would be happy for us to follow up with you.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Vocabulary search interface released

The British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) announces the release of its search client for the NERC Vocabulary Server, NVS2.0
This tool provides easy access to nearly 200 controlled vocabularies, describing over 100,000 environmental metadata terms. It enables powerful search options for both lay users and experts.
The NVS2.0 advanced search interface ©
To cater for a variety of needs, the simple, free-text search is tuned to give the best results for casual browsing, while the advanced options allow "power users" to tailor the tool to their methods.
NVS2.0 and the controlled vocabularies it hosts, are used worldwide by the environmental data community. In addition to the new Vocabulary search, NVS2.0 provides linked data access. Widespread use of the NVS2.0 vocabularies enhances interoperability of environmental data systems, and promotes data discovery and reuse. BODC invites you to explore, use and contribute to this international resource.
To find out more about NVS2.0, read about the NERC Vocabulary Server.

Monday, 10 August 2015

British Oceanographic Data Centre at GEOTRACES Annual Meeting

In July 2015, Abby Bull (GEOTRACES Data Manager) and Graham Allen (Head of BODC) attended meetings of the GEOTRACES Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) and Data Management Committee (DMC) at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. These annual meetings focus on GEOTRACES data management, as well as the overall running of the project (overseen by the SSC; a committee comprising 15 international representatives, the DMC Co-chairs and the GEOTRACES Data Manager). 

Participants at the GEOTRACES meeting ©
GEOTRACES is an international study of the marine biogeochemical cycles of trace elements’ isotopes. The programme, involving scientists from 35 nations, plans to cover all major ocean basins over the next decade. To date, 747 stations have been sampled during 52 cruises, resulting in over 1000 hydrographical and geochemical data sets. 
To facilitate access to the data, the first GEOTRACES Intermediate Data Product (IDP) is now freely available online. It contains data collected and quality-controlled up to the end of 2013. It includes contributions from laboratories around the world involved with the GEOTRACES programme, who’ve shared hydrographic and marine geochemical data in order to strengthen relationships within the oceanographic community. These results will prove useful in many fields of oceanography and the timely release of quality-controlled data is of great benefit to marine research. An electronic atlas, eGEOTRACES, providing 2D and 3D images of the oceanic distribution of many of the parameters, accompanies the digital data.
The second IDP will be launched at 2017's Goldschmidt Conferencin Paris. The British Oceanographic Data Centre is looking forward to being involved and continuing to contribute.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

BODC working with BCO-DMO on GEOTRACES

Abby Bull, Data Manager for the GEOTRACES project, and Head of the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) Graham Allen recently spent time with colleagues at the Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office (BCO-DMO) at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, USA.

Abby Bull (BODC) with Shannon Rauch and Bob Groman (BCO-DMO) outside the BCO-DMO office at WHOI. ©
The purpose of the visit was twofold; as well as agreeing GEOTRACES data exchange protocols both parties discussed how the two highly-regarded data centres can build on their long history of collaboration.
BCO-DMO is a combination of formerly independent Data Management Offices formed to support large US research programmes. Its staff work with scientists to make data from US National Science Foundation (NSF) research projects available online.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A Korean delegation visits the British Oceanographic Data Centre

On 24 June 2015, it was with great pleasure that members of the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) team met with three delegates from the Republic of Korea.
Professor Wonsik "Jeff" Shim from Sungkyunkwan University and Senior Researchers Myung-Seok Choi and Jeonghoon Lee from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KiSTi) visited us to learn more about our approach to marine data management.
Some of the BODC Senior Management team with the Korean delegates ©
The delegation was in the UK to learn more about best practice in research data management. The Korean Government is keen to understand the UK's model and introduce a Data Management Policy to maximise impact from its research activities. Discussion topics during the visit included BODC's 'end to end' approach to data management, UK data policy and how it works in practice, the data standards we employ and the technology we use to underpin our infrastructure.
We enjoyed the visit and hope that the information imparted will prove useful to the delegation.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Surgewatch: making sea level data more discoverable

Surgewatch is a database set up to provide a UK-wide record of high sea level and coastal flood events covering the last 100 years. It is maintained by the University of Southampton (UofS), the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC).

Storm surges can create higher than usual tides ©
The sea level data comes from BODC, which archives and distributes data from the UK Tide Gauge Network. The sea level exceedance probabilities are derived from a recent national study commissioned by the Environment Agency (EA); the storm information comes from a global meteorological dataset of mean sea level pressure and near-surface wind fields (20th Century Reanalysis Version 2, NOAA).
All of these data have been collated to describe the 96 largest storms from 1915-2014, the highest sea levels they produced and a description of the coastal flooding that occurred during each event.
The database is described by a Data Descriptor article published in Scientific Data, part of the Nature Publishing Group. It publishes open-access, peer-reviewed articles with the aim of making data more discoverable, interpretable and reusable. To make it easier to access to the database, the Surgewatch team have built an accompanying web site.
The data are presented to be easily accessible and understandable to a range of users including scientists, coastal engineers, planners and concerned citizens. Our vision is to progressively expand and update this database. We welcome user contributions (eyewitness accounts, videos, photographs etc. - please don’t put yourself at risk during a storm though!)

Friday, 5 June 2015

ODIP: solving the 'patchwork data' problem

Oceans, and the processes within them, have no concept of international boundaries. The same can't be said for the way we manage the data collected in their study. To enable major scientific advances, oceanographic researchers need to get the most complete picture possible but existing oceanographic data are scattered in national and regional repositories.

Participants at the 4th ODIP workshop ©
The Ocean Data Interoperability Platform (ODIP) project aims to solve the accessibility problem by establishing a means of sharing and managing marine data seamlessly between the EU, USA and Australia. The ODIP approach is to develop interoperability between existing regional marine e-infrastructures to create a global framework for marine data management.
Over the past three years, data management experts from across the globe have been working together to develop prototypes to meet this interoperability goal. The 4th ODIP workshop was hosted by the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) in Liverpool during April 2015 to discuss and share progress in key areas.
Central to interoperability is the NERC Vocabulary Server (NVS2.0) developed and maintained by BODC. It provides data managers with agreed, well-defined marine terms via controlled vocabularies and enables mappings to other vocabularies elsewhere. It addresses the problem of ambiguities associated with data markup and enables records to be interpreted by computer. This opens data up to a whole world of possibilities from computer-aided search, manipulation and federated distribution via Linked Data applications.
For more than ten years, the NERC Vocabulary Server has been used operationally by over 35 countries to support the EU SeaDataNet-2 programme (and its forerunners). NVS2.0 has set the standard for a service of its kind and has therefore been utilised within ODIP prototype 2 to underpin interoperability by linking the EU, US and Australian research cruise programmes, providing cruise information at an international level.
Roy Lowry, BODC Technical Consultant, "The meeting demonstrated how the NERC Vocabulary Server provides a solid foundation on which oceanographic Linked Data applications for the Semantic Web may be built. Seeing 25 years' work delivering such exciting results provides me with great satisfaction."
Such is the importance of interoperability, funding to continue the transcontinental ODIP collaboration for a further three years has been approved by the EU. Helen Glaves of the British Geological Survey, who is co-leading ODIP with Dick Schaap of MARIS BV, welcomed the extension: "ODIP has already succeeded in demonstrating a coordinated approach to the sharing of marine data on a global scale through the development of prototypes. This new funding will not only allow these prototypes to become fully operational, but will also enable us to widen the scope of the current project".

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

BODC at Young Coastal Scientists and Engineers Conference

The 11th Young Coastal Scientists and Engineers Conference takes place at Manchester Conference Centre on Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 March 2015. It is hosted by the University of Manchester's School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE). This annual event, first held in 2005, will build on the success of previous conferences - furthering its aim to foster an integrated UK coastal research community.

YCSEC 2015 ©
Coastal physical process research in the UK occurs within several disciplines (oceanography, geography, geology, engineering). The interaction between different groups is often limited and this lack of integration is felt most by young researchers. This interdisciplinary conference is aimed at young scientists and engineers concerned with any aspect of physical coastal science or engineering. It specifically allows young researchers the opportunity to discuss and present their work in an informal setting.
The British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) will be present, making a case for the importance of data management with a poster entitled "Data Management- from collection to archival". If you are attending the event and have any questions that you would like to discuss, please contact Joana Beja at BODC.

Friday, 27 February 2015

EnviroHack 2015 kicks off

NERC's Head of Science Information and Data Management Coordinator, Mark Thorley, opened the NERC EnviroHack today.
This 'hackathon' event provides an exciting opportunity to collaborate and create value from environmental data sets. EnviroHack was organised by the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).
Mark Thorley kicks off the NERC EnviroHack ©
Data collected by environmental scientists are being made available for 'hackers' to explore in new ways. The participants, including Justin Buck, Lise Quesnel and Chris Wood from BODC, will be using 'Linked Data' — a means of using web technology to link separate but related data sets.
The event, facilitated by Red Ninja Studios and supported by Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), runs from Friday 27 February until Saturday 28 February at the Digital Catapult Centre, London. The raw data for this event comes from: BODC, CEH, the British Geological Survey (BGS), UK Data Archive, Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and the Met Office.
BODC data encompasses measurements made from research vessels, while both underway and at sampling stations; from moorings deployed either on the sea surface, in the water column or on the sea bed; and from land-based stations recording sea level. Over 60,000 data series have been provided; each series consists of a number of data cycles. Data categories include
Dr Clare Postlethwaite, MEDIN Coordinator,  presenting at the NERC EnvirohackDr Clare Postlethwaite, MEDIN Coordinator, presenting at the NERC Envirohack ©
  • Acoustics
  • Bathymetry and topography
  • Currents — horizontal and vertical velocity, Lagrangian currents and water transport rates
  • Meteorology — Radiosonde, Met. stations and data buoys
  • Optical properties — pigments, turbidity, irradiance
  • Sea level
  • Water column temperature and salinity
  • Water column chemistry — nutrients, carbons, oxygen
  • Waves — statistics and spectra
BODC's metadata (information about data) are available as 5* Linked Data from a SPARQL endpoint. These metadata include links to a download service where the data they describe are available under licence.
Throwing ideas around
at the Digital Catapult Centre
Lise Quesnel (BODC developer)
presenting at the NERC Envirohack 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Rescuing historic Maltese tide gauge data

By restoring historic tide gauge data from Malta and making it available to the public, researchers at the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) and the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) hope to shed new light on past tsunamis and climate change in the Mediterranean.

Chart from Valetta, Malta, 2nd April 1872, after undergoing conservation, showing the 'seiching' ©

A tide gauge installed in the Maltese port of Valetta working in 1871 offers the only continuous record of the sea level in the Southern Mediterranean longer than fifty years. However, some of the paper records it produced have deteriorated.
The project coordinator, BODC's Elizabeth Bradshaw said, "there are a limited number of long-term records of climate data in the world, so rescuing and recovering data is vital for answering questions on climate change and oceanography".
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have provided £32,000 from their 'Breakthrough Fund' to BODC and the UKHO in order to restore these records and make them available to the public. They hope to digitise the data via a citizen science activity, once this project is complete. Once digitised, scientists will be able to use the data to look for evidence of past tsunamis and climate change.
While modern tide gauges typically only calculate the sea level once every fifteen minutes, this historic analogue gauge made a continuous recording. It worked using a float on the water that, via a system of pulleys and cogs, moved a pen up and down a paper-wrapped drum in a way that reflected the changing sea level.
The British Navy installed the gauge to ensure ships got safely in and out of the harbour and in 1877 Astronomer Royal George Airy wrote about the particularly interesting tidal signal at Valetta, caused by the ocean water sloshing back and forth across the Mediterranean basin (much as it does in a bath). The gauge remained in action until 1926.
Once the project is complete, in March of this year, the data will be made available on the BODC website as well as on The original records will remain at the UKHO.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

BODC quoted in The Observer

A recent NERC research cruise, on which the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) provided on-board data management, was featured in The Observer last Sunday (25 January). The article, 'The secrets of the shelf seas – one of Earth's most important ecosystems' discussed Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry (SSB), a major UK research programme that aims to improve our understanding of how nutrients and carbon dioxide are cycled in the shelf seas surrounding the UK and north west Europe.

Colony of salps floating under the RRS Discovery during DY018. ©

Dr Louise Darroch, BODC's Data Manager for SSB, has participated on two of the project's cruises to the Celtic Sea. She was interviewed by the newspaper about her participation in the second cruise, DY018, which took place on NERC's new research ship, RRS Discovery.
SSB is co-funded by NERC and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). BODC will manage data collected during a large fieldwork campaign due to end later this year. As well as securing and quality controlling the resulting data, BODC will also facilitate data exchange between SSB programme members and the general public.
There's more information about SSB at the project website. For more details of the DY018, see the Principal Scientist's blog.

Monday, 12 January 2015

EnviroHack 2015, a two-day data jam

EnviroHack, organised by the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) will take place in London in February. The NERC-funded 'hackathon' event will provide an exciting opportunity to collaborate and create value from environmental data sets.

EnviroHack 2015 ©
Raw data collected by environmental scientists will be available for 'hackers' to explore in new ways. For example, integrating atmosphere, soil, river and ocean data from different NERC centres could allow the tracking of a pollutant from its source, through the river network and into the sea. It is becoming increasingly important to understand the Earth System holistically, rather than looking at meteorology, oceanography, ecology or hydrology in isolation.
Participants will be using 'Linked Data', a means of using web technology to link separate but related data sets. BODC has been using Linked Data in its projects for several years, most recently in the FP7-funded SenseOCEAN project. The raw data for this event will come from: BODC, CEH, the British Geological Survey (BGS), UK Data Archive, Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and the Met Office.
Dr Adam Leadbetter, Vocabularies Manager at BODC and one of the co-ordinators of EnviroHack said: "we anticipate that attendees will come from universities, NERC institutes, public bodies and private businesses. This mix will foster new contacts and may lead to future collaboration."
There will be a few brief introductory talks on the Friday morning, after which participants will split into teams. Each team will explore the available data and produce an application prototype over the two days.
The event, facilitated by Red Ninja Studios and supported by Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), will run from Friday 27 February at 10:00am until Saturday 28 February at 8:00pm at the Digital Catapult Centre, 101 Euston Road, London. To register for free or request more information, please contact Dr Graham Allen.