The overarching goal of Blue-Cloud is to federate key existing European marine data infrastructures through innovative digital services, fostering Open Science in the marine domain in support of evidence-based decision making and a sustainable blue economy.
A key contribution to achieving this objective is the Blue-Cloud Data Discovery and Access Service (DD&AS), which now has a public beta release officially online. The Blue-Cloud DD&AS was recently presented by means of a poster at the EGI Conference 2021, as well as showcased in a promotional video launched by Blue-Cloud in October.
The Blue-Cloud DD&AS delivers a framework for finding, discovering and accessing marine environmental data and data products building upon existing European marine data repositories, infrastructures and data services, and made possible thanks to the sharing and input of expertise and best practice from key actors in the European marine data space, including the EU marine data services EMODnet and Copernicus Marine Service together with several Research Infrastructures. Currently, the DD&AS gives common discovery and access to more than 10 Million data sets as managed by EMODnet Chemistry, EMODnet Biology - EurOBIS, EcoTaxa, ENA, SeaDataNet products, SeaDataNet data, ICOS, SOCAT, and Euro-Argo - Argo.
Blue-Cloud is also working towards the establishment of the marine-thematic access point to the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), providing access to this wealth of multidisciplinary data to almost 2 million researchers across Europe, and beyond.
Study the global ocean from anywhere in the world
With the Blue-Cloud DD&AS, discovery and retrieval of data sets and data products from across multiple data repositories and services is now available for everyone, from anywhere in the world.
The Blue-Cloud DD&AS provides a single access point to open data made available by selected European marine data and research infrastructures that are connected to the Blue-Cloud service, which serves federated discovery and access.
A common interface is provided for discovery and retrieval of data sets and data products from each of the federated infrastructures. The interface also includes facilities for mapping and viewing the locations of data sets, as this is part of the query dialogue. Moreover, the interface has a “shopping” mechanism, facilitating users to compose and submit mixed shopping baskets with requests for (free) data sets across multiple infrastructures.
EMODnet is one of the key, long-term European marine data infrastructures federated in Blue-Cloud through Blue-Cloud DD&AS, together with Copernicus Marine Service. At the moment, EMODnet data from marine chemistry data collections and interpolated map products and marine biogeographic data collections with taxonomy and distribution are accessible through this Blue-Cloud service.The EMODnet Bathymetry World Base Layer is used as the base map in the interface.
The DD&AS is one of the two main components of the Blue-Cloud technical framework, next to the Blue-Cloud Virtual Research Environment (VRE). There is an option for VRE users to transfer retrieved data sets directly to their personal data space in the VRE for use in Virtual Lab analyses.
How to use the Blue-Cloud DD&AS
Users can easily access the Blue-Cloud DD&AS for anonymous discovery and browsing the treasure box of marine and ocean data sets while submitting shopping requests requires users to have registered a Marine-ID account. This also gives them access to the MyBlueCloud dashboard where they can oversee their shopping request, their processing, and download links, when ready.
The DD&AS makes use of web services and APIs, following protocols such as CSW, OAI-PMH, ERDDAP, or otherwise, as provided and maintained by the federated marine data and research infrastructures. These are used to deploy machine-to-machine interactions for harvesting metadata, submitting queries, and retrieving resulting metadata, data sets and data products.
The query mechanism has a two-step approach:
- The first step enables users to identify interesting data collections, with free search, geographic and temporal criteria as main query operators on a common catalogue including entries from all federated data infrastructures;
- The second step enables users to drill down per interesting infrastructure to get more specific data sets at granule level, using again free search, geographic and temporal criteria, but this time at granule level, and including additional search criteria, specific for a selected infrastructure;
Finally, users are able to compose and submit shopping requests at the granule level and after processing by the Blue-Cloud data broker to retrieve the data sets by downloading from their MyBlueCloud dashboard.