SeaDataNet is a standardised system of data archival to compile the large amounts of data collected from oceanographic cruises or automated observation systems. This infrastructure, which relies on an international network, also contributes to the development of excellency in European research.
Conducted from 2006 to 2015, the SeaDataNet projects involved research institutes and marine data centres from 34 countries along the North-East Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas, from the Arctic Ocean to the Mediterranean and Black Seas.
The societal demand for monitoring, forecasting and assessments of the impact of climate change as well as of other activities such as fishing, laying submarine communications cables and carrying out offshore prospection, makes access to quality marine data, particularly long time series, a vital asset.
Data on European seas are produced by a very fragmented and heterogeneous observation systems: research cruises on oceanographic vessels, submarines, airplanes and diverse other autonomous moored or floating platforms, as well as satellites. Several hundred physical, geophysical, geological, biological and chemical parameters are typically measured.
The European projects FP6-SeaDataNet and FP7-SeaDataNet II, coordinated by IFREMER, set up a pan-European data storage and management infrastructure to standardise, maintain and facilitate integrated access to oceanographic data recorded by European countries with seaboards via a unique portal. To do so, the existing structures were networked, in particular the National Oceanographic Data Centres in the 34 adjoining countries.
During the first phase of the project, SeaDataNet included 49 partners, coordinated by IFREMER:
- 40 transnational marine data platforms, national oceanographic data centres and satellite data centres,
- 4 scientific modelling centres,
- 3 international organisations,
- 2 associated organisations to develop data products and ensure compliance with the standards and the procedures adopted.
The number of connected data centres and available data then doubled during the second phase of the project, growing to 102 centres connected to the SeaDataNet system.
In total, nearly 1.8 million stations, time series or transects, collected by more than 500 research laboratories in European seaboard countries are housed in the infrastructure, of which 87% is freely accessible. All data are processed and described using common procedures, software and vocabulary created by the project to facilitate the interoperability of the different data sources. The data are disseminated in the standardised formats defined by the project.
The infrastructure must continuously adapt to new technologies to remain effective. Furthermore, the methods of data collection also change and produce ever-larger volumes of data as well as new types of data, requiring constant adaptation of the systems. Therefore, a third phase is in progress to meet these new challenges. In March 2016, the SeaDataNet Consortium associated with the technical consortium EUDAT, which offers intensive computational services and cloud-type storage space, answered the European call for tender for Advanced Research Infrastructures.