Marine Data News Issue 38
April 2018
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In this issue of Marine Data News...

International Role for DASSH and MBA team

The Marine Biological Association (MBA) Data Team who run the MEDIN Data Archive Centre for Marine Species and Habitats Data (DASSH) has recently been recognised by the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) and accredited as an Associated Data Unit (ADU), becoming the UK node for the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS).  The accreditation reflects the pivotal role the MBA plays in the management of the UK’s marine biological data resources and its global profile as a centre of excellence for marine data management.

Becoming an ADU provides access to IODE training, workshops and projects, the opportunity to collaborate with other ADUs and National Oceanographic Data Centres, and to contribute to the development of IODE standards and best practices.

As part of becoming the UK OBIS Node, we have also established a new data exchange agreement with the UK National Biodiversity Network, to ensure the streamlined collation of marine biological data. As part of the OBIS Node role, DASSH have also adapted the data infrastructure to additionally support publication of data using the OBIS-ENV-DATA schema.

OBIS-ENV-DATA schema.  Source:

Typically, marine data are collected as part of a Survey/Event/Sample/Replicate type hierarchy.  OBIS nodes need to support a more complex data model to capture contextual environmental and physiographic parameters measured at different levels of the survey hierarchy.  Where relevant these additional data are shared with the other MEDIN thematic DACs.

OBIS have extended the Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A) standards used globally, whilst still maintaining interoperability, to capture this complexity using the extendedMeasurementOrFacts (eMOF) Extension.  This is now referred to as the OBIS-ENV-DATA schema.

All these activities are underpinned by enhanced automated ingestion and quality assurance processes that have revolutionised the integration of data into the DASSH infrastructure and the sharing of that data with other organisations.
New MEDIN Portal launch

The redeveloped MEDIN portal went live just before Christmas 2017. In response to user consultation, the portal has had a complete makeover giving it a more intuitive design and layout and using up-to-date technology. Now with more filtering options, and the ability to upload any WMS map layer to help with geographical searching, we have built on the functionality of the old portal enhancing the user experience and making finding data easier.

Behind the scenes, the system for metadata harvesting from Data Archive Centres (DACs) has also been revamped. Each DAC is now able to manage the harvest of their own records and respond to any error messages generated. But remember you don’t have to be a DAC to have metadata added to the portal so please contact if you would like to contribute metadata.

The new portal will be formally launched at the MEDIN open meeting on 24th April 2018

We’d be pleased to get your feedback and comments on any aspect of the portal, just email

Scottish Datafest 2018

After a chilly and snowy weekend, the clouds parted on the morning of the 19th March, just in time for Historic Environment Scotland to throw open the doors of John Sinclair’s House to host the first marine themed fringe event of the Scottish DataFest.

DataFest is a Scotland wide event run by The Data Lab, a Scottish innovation centre tasked with enabling data driven collaboration between industry, public sector, and universities.  The 2018 event combined events across Scotland between 19th and 23rd March, consisting of a central Data Summit conference, talent recruitment event, and a wide range of fringe events organised by many and varied organisations.

This was the first year that a marine focussed event formed part of the DataFest programme. The event was co-organised and presented by MEDIN, Marine Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, and Scottish Natural Heritage.  It was targeted towards people who had some familiarity or enthusiasm for working with data from the marine environment, but otherwise did not require any previous experience or skills. The theme for the event was centered on the FAIR principles for data, and to open up discussion with users and stakeholders in the marine environment.

The first part of the morning included an introduction to marine data and the work towards open data that are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Re-usable by Jens Rasmussen from Marine Scotland Science – part of MEDIN FishDAC. This was followed by a demonstration of Marine Scotland’s Open Data network. Liam Mason from Marine Scotland Science demonstrated the features of the Marine Scotland Maps portal, and the wider integration to other platforms.


Peter McKeague presented the work done in Historic Environment Scotland – part of MEDIN Historic Environment DAC, the portals used for managing heritage information and historic protected area as well as a range of machine readable services and integrations that open up access to information.
James Dargie and Alina Piotrowska from Scottish Natural Heritage showed participants the range of information generated on Priority marine features, and how the SNH workflow of recording and converting the data to GIS formats is moving to open formats and integration.

MEDIN co-ordinator Clare Postlethwaite demonstrated how marine data is accessible through the data discovery portal, and showed how MEDIN has grown over time to encompass huge amounts of data.
A demo was run by Drew Milne from Marine Scotland Planning and Policy, of a Marine Spatial Planning game which was developed as part of the SimCelt project. The demo allowed participants try out the planning, decision making and model-driven responses built into the game.
A mini “hackathon” was presented with the main task for participants to design their  “dream marine data interface”. 
The responses from the group events were then presented when everyone convened and seamlessly moved into a broader level discussion around the access and use of marine data. The groups had explored a range of differences in marine data, such as ownership, definitions of where “marine” starts (e.g. at the beach, different tidal ranges etc.) as well as the lack of continuous variables between marine and terrestrial datasets (e.g. elevation is often treated very differently between marine and terrestrial datasets). 

The exercise to design a marine data interface produced very different results from the groups, ranging from filtering and maps to fully dynamic single page components that could be scaled by the users. One group presented a very minimalist interface that simply used AI to allow users to retrieve data by voice!
Marine Biodiversity Collaborative Research Priorities for Wales 

Natural Resources Wales’ purpose is to pursue sustainable management of natural resources in all of its work. This means looking after air, land, water, wildlife, plants and soil to improve Wales’ well-being, and provide a better future for everyone. Since its creation NRW has made a strong commitment to being an evidence based organisation.

The document 'Marine Biodiversity Collaborative Research Priorities' was written in October 2017 to outline projects that are considered to be high priority where NRW could explore opportunities for collaborative working. 

If you are interested in carrying out research on any of the projects listed, please contact NRW here. The list of high priority projects has been divided into the following groups:

  • Possible research collaborations
  • Other possible collaborations that may be less suited to the work of Universities and Research Institutions but may nevertheless offer opportunities to collaborate; for example, with part, but not all, of the project
  • Projects that are currently underway but may still have some scope for further collaboration 

Examples of research collaborations include; the use of marine habitat fordiadromous fish, the diet of marine mammals and the survival of Crepidula fornicata (slipper limpet) deposited onto the seabed in different environmental conditions. 

EMODnet Data Ingestion Service

The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) consists of more than 160 organisations that together work on assembling, harmonising and making marine data, products and metadata more available. BGS are heavily involved in the EMODnet Geology project and have taken on the role as Geology thematic lead for the EMODnet Ingestion project. 

British Geological Survey have written a blog to introduce the EMODnet Data Ingestion Service, click here to read all about it! 

The EMODnet Data Ingestion project includes a Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) pilot for real-time monitoring systems, allowing direct standardised access to selected data types from selected monitoring instruments. The SWE pilot is led by BODC in cooperation with partners from France and Italy. It makes use of cooperation and experience in many ongoing EU research projects in which SWE standards for the marine domain are being defined, and works closely with 52 North, the “SWE Marine Profiles” activity and the EU Ocean Data Interoperability Platform (ODIP) projects; the latter contributing additional expertise from the USA and Australia.
Good progress has been made with formulating the scope, SensorML, and Observations and Measurements (O&M) profiles with effort focused on defining platform profiles for ‘SensorML2.0: Platform models and Platform’ instances, drawing on already existing profiles. These profiles are being proposed for acceptance by the Marine SWE profiles community. Work is also underway creating the sensor profiles; these will also be proposed to the Marine SWE profiles community.
An initial pilot Sensor Observation Service (SOS) service has been installed and configured as a demonstrator for a small number of EMODnet Data Ingestion partners. Having SWE profiles ready and configured will allow the client not only to provide access and graphs of the data time series but also the platform and sensor metadata.

The SWE client demonstrator will be hosted at the EMODnet Physics portal and advertised on the EMODnet Data Ingestion portal, with instructions and guidance for other interested operators to join and contribute data. The client also allows selection from a list of other SOS services that could be connected to expand the SWE pilot in the future. For further information, please contact

NERC Data Accessibility

NERC would like to improve the accessibility of data for researchers and other public stakeholders. Have your say and complete the survey for easier data accessibility! Click here for the full report. 

Oceanology International 2018

MEDIN, BODC, PSMSL and Marine Data products from the National Oceanography Centre attended Oceanology International in March at Londons Excel, to promote good data management practices and share knowledge within the marine data community.

Click on the image below to see the highlights from the event.


Sharing marine data - past, present and future  

24th April, University of Liverpool in London, 33 Finsbury Square, London EC2A 1AG

The Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) invites the marine community, particularly those from a policy, commercial, academic and conservation background, to an open meeting to exchange information about their data requirements for the next 5 years and to mark 10 years of working together to improve access to marine data.

The meeting is FREE of charge and lunch will be provided. There will be a drinks reception from 5pm onwards.

Deadline for registration is 16th April 2018. Register here.

Revealing Britains Hidden World 

On April 13th, a free event is taking place at the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth.

Sponsored by The Crown Estate, there will be a launch of the book  Exploring Britain’s Hidden World: a Natural History of Seabed Habitats written by Keith Hiscock. Presentations and discussions will inform the public about our underwater world. 

ICES First Hackathon!

Participants are invited to the data hackathon in Copenhagen 29-30th May, 2018. 

The subject is the visualization and integration of ICES datasets - aiming to produce open source computer tools, scripts or applications than can be adopted by the wider ICES community. 

Sea Level Futures Conference July 2018

Sea level observations, modelling regional sea level and understanding of regional sea level rise and variability are just some of the topics to be explored during the Sea Level Futures Conference in Liverpool. Keynote, oral and poster presentations will be given during these sessions.

Conference registration closes April 6th, please click here for more information 
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