Marine Data News Issue 34
December 2016 
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In this issue of Marine Data News...
MEDIN are delighted to welcome Peel Ports as a new partner
Peel Ports logo and link to website

Peel Ports is one of the UK’s largest port groups, owning and operating seven of the UK and Ireland’s most important ports. It handles 70 million tonnes of cargo every year. It is headquartered in Liverpool and employs around 3,000 staff. Peel Ports is part of the Peel Group, one of the UK’s foremost privately owned investment enterprises. Its strategy embraces a broad range of sectors - land and property, transport and logistics, retail and leisure, energy, and media, with assets owned or under management of more than £5 billion. Group investment policy is focused on actively managing a diverse portfolio, enhancing the quality of assets and recycling capital over the long term. 

Peel Ports collects a wide range of marine data in its role as port operator and works closely with the UK Hydrographic Office to ensure that the most up-to-date bathymetric surveys are archived and made available to improve the safety of mariners and for use by other marine stakeholders. MEDIN are assisting Peel Ports through the use of the MEDIN Discovery Metadata Standard, thus making the Peel Ports data holdings discoverable through the MEDIN portal on an ongoing basis. In addition, MEDIN are providing advice to Peel Ports on improving their data management procedures so that any discovered datasets can be easily utilised by interested parties.

Peel Ports say that “we are delighted to become a MEDIN partner as this follows the same philosophy of data exchange and standardisation that we are aspiring to as a growing business”.

Marine Data Exchange expands by 20%, further supporting research and development

The Crown Estate logo and link to website

Over 500 new surveys have been added to the Marine Data Exchange since 2015, delivering a 22% increase in total available data.

The additions mean that 60% of all survey work completed by The Crown Estate's offshore renewable energy customers, is now freely accessible via the platform.


The MDE’s over 100 terabytes of data have also now moved into the Cloud, making access to information, including big files, quicker and easier. Searching for and downloading data has been simplified, and a saved searches facility is available, meaning that users can opt to receive alerts when new information is uploaded.

The platform, now one of the biggest sources of marine data in the world, includes a host of new wind, wave and tidal data, as well as landscape assessments, bird and mammal population studies, habitat characterisations and archaeological studies.

Over 7700 data sets were downloaded from the MDE last year by a growing audience of consultants, developers and academics, as well as visitors from NGOs and government. The platform is also attracting interest across the world, with users logging in from the US, Russia, Spain and the Netherlands.

Huub den Rooijen, Director of Energy Minerals and Infrastructure at The Crown Estate, said: “We’re delighted to be sharing more marine data than ever, via a newly improved platform, enabling all those with an interest in the offshore environment to benefit from existing studies and ultimately helping to unlock further research and investment offshore”.

So far, data from the MDE has been used in projects including

  • Weather modelling to forecast offshore weather conditions.
  • An Offshore Turbulence Intensity study, looking into the use of LiDAR technology offshore.
  • Raising awareness of offshore wrecks for the WWII centenary.
  • Development of regional sea bed monitoring plans for the marine aggregates industry.

The MDE was developed in 2012 by The Crown Estate, as part of its active management of the UK seabed, where we lease sites for renewable energy, cables and pipelines and marine aggregates.

It provides a platform to store, manage and share the data collected during the planning, building and operation of offshore renewable energy projects, offering anyone with an interest in the marine environment free access to information, helping to de-risk further investment offshore and open up value.

For more information contact The Crown Estate:; 020 7851 5242

MEDIN DAC Hack Day Returns

Following on from the success of the mini MEDIN DAC Hack Day held back in January, MEDIN hosted its second ever hack event on the 21st and 22nd of November once again bringing together representatives from the Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) Data Archive Centres (DACs) to share their skills and experience

This hacking event centred around creating products, applications and visualisations using MEDIN metadata to describe the wealth of marine data available through the MEDIN discovery portal.

Image of heat maps of MEDIN metadata increase in the MEDIN Portal over time

Heat maps showing how the metadata described in the MEDIN Data Discovery Portal has increased since the Portal release in 2010.


There was no hanging around as, following a brief welcome from event organiser Dan Lear (DASSH) and a sprint through the resources made available to the attendees over the two days by Jens Rasmussen (Marine Scotland), the delegates and their laptops were quickly set loose.

Open to all levels of skills, and with no need to be a programmer to be able to take part, the ideas popping up around the room covered a broad spectrum of complexity and focus, producing a wide array of outcomes by the end of the second day.

Image of heat maps of MEDIN keywords distribution

Heat maps showing how the metadata described in the MEDIN Data Discovery Portal are divided between different MEDIN keywords.

Using Matlab and a static snapshot of the content of the Portal, heat maps of the UK coast were created where the colors are representational of the number of datasets that cover each 0.1x0.1 degree box. Red tones indicate a larger number of datasets while bluer tones show areas where fewer datasets are currently available.

An animation of the growth and location of metadata over time showing spatial trends in marine activities was created using start and end dates of metadata records. Extracted via a direct link to a database version of the catalogue key fields were converted to WKT, GeoJSON and KML via a PHP script.

Video of metadata growth in the MEDIN Portal over time
Animation of metadata growth over time.

Using applications Medoo, a PHP database framework, and Slim, a PHP micro-framework, one delegate built a prototype REST API for the MEDIN Data Discovery Portal, a service with the Portal does not currently offer. The REST API defined a set of functions which developers and applications could use to interactive with the Portal via HTTP protocol, requesting data and receiving real-time responses in a JSON format.

Images of the MEDIN, Medoo and Slim logos

Word cloud visualisations compiled from a static file of the number of occurrences of the 348 different SeaDataNet Parameter Discovery Vocabulary terms used in connection with datasets in the Data Discovery Portal were designed. Firstly as a static image useful for posters and presentations and then as an interactive tool using Tableau software, which could be shared via a link or be embedded on web pages.

Image of a static wordcloud of P02 vocabulary used in MEDIN Portal
Static word cloud of different SeaDataNet Parameter Discovery Vocabulary terms used to describe data in the MEDIN Data Discovery Portal.
Image and link to a interactive wordcloud of P02 vocabulary used in the MEDIN Portal
Interactive word cloud of different SeaDataNet Parameter Discovery Vocabulary terms used to describe data in the MEDIN Data Discovery Portal built using Tableau and hosted on the Tableau public website.

Further utilisation of Tableau produced a fully interactive, data visualisation dashboard of one bubble map, two square maps, one bar chart and a scatter plot. Any user visiting the dashboard can highlight or select data from one of the maps, charts or plots and see an immediate effect of the components.

Both applications built using Tableau were generated using static CSV files, but it would be possible to have this feed with live data producing a real-time visualisation of the metadata in the Portal.

MEDIN has a public tableau account where the dashboard and word cloud can be viewed and interacted with.

Image and link to the MEDIN Metadata dashboard hosted on tableau public
MEDIN'S Marine Metatdata Marathon interactive dashboard built using Tableau and hosted on the Tableau public website.
Another attendee looked at visualising which MEDIN keyword was most popular in each of the SeaVoX sea areas using SPARQL, a Protocol and RDF Query Language and Google Maps.
Image of most popular MEDIN keywords in each SeaVox sea areas
Google map displaying the most popular keyword and its number of instances within a SeaVoX sea area.

Using R, a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics alongside MariaDB an open source database server, another delegate was able to create a PHP output of the 865 organisation listed as contributing metadata to the Data Discover Portal. The output produced a list of potential duplications of organisation, details of individuals associated with the organisation, datasets that they are associated and the role that they have with regards to the dataset.

Image of PHP output of organisation
Image of PHP output of dataset and role
PHP output of organisations listed as contributors in the MEDIN Data Discovery Portal.

All the products of the hack day were presented at the MEDIN mega-meeting to an enthusiastic response; the group being particularly impressed with the original scope of the attendees and the speed in with which they had produced such polished and useful outputs.

Cloud hosting and storage was made available to use as part of the event via the kind sponsorship of Digital Ocean.

Marine Scotland Open Data Network

Marine Scotland have embarked on a process to both align their open data approaches and expand the amount of data they are making open and accessible. By also mandating particular metadata standards into the process of dataset publication, and adopting the MEDIN metadata standard, no dataset will be made available on either of the three publication portals unless it has appropriately high quality metadata attached. While this occasionally slows dataset publication, it ensures that consistent metadata collection will become a routine business. As part of this, more metadata will also flow to MEDIN in the near future.


Marine Scotland now have in place a ‘trinity‘ of tools to make data more accessible:

  • Marine Scotland Information ( – Marine Scotland‘s newest portal and where resources are tied together. On this site, Marine Scotland take in the service data from the other two platforms and provide information pages where the relevant maps, data sources and contextual information are put together. While both the mapping and data portal provide in-depth information and functionality for the specific jobs that they do, Marine Scotland Information is meant to be approachable for all. Users can search across all information types as well as more descriptive information that puts the maps and data sources into context. Marine Scotland Information merges content from several separate sections of Marine Scotland‘s web, which was previously used to supply datasets. The new Marine Scotland Information site, links to both those below along with an additional 300 information pages crafted and maintained within Marine Scotland. It also includes hundreds of links to data sources and map layers from other providers.
  • The National Marine Plan interactive ( - which delivers in depth access to GIS layers from Marine Scotland and a range of partners (Scottish Natural Heritage; Scottish Environment Protection Agency; Joint Nature Conservation Committee; Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland and many more). From here you get access to view the maps, download the ones available, and access more information about the layers. On NMPi Marine Scotland now make approximately 800 spatial data layers/maps available to view.
  • Marine Scotland Data Publication Portal ( This is where Marine Scotland publish downloadable files and tabular data. The individual datasets published here are registered with Digital Object identifiers (DOI) to allow better citation of the datasets. Currently, the Data Portal predominantly hosts more scientific data and reports. Within peer reviewed journals, there are increasing demand that data mentioned in papers is made available. There is also demand around the ability to mint DOI for datasets which allows scientists to make data available without having to place it in orphan repositories. The portal currently publishes 100 data sets consisting of a mixture of data and reports.

Overall, the three sites take in between approximately 500 and 1,000 visitors per month each. While undoubtedly there will be a proportion of overlaps in these statistics, they are still serving up a considerable amount of data.

The Challenger Society for Marine Science embraces data management

The Challenger Society for Marine Science logo and link to website

In September, the Challenger Society for Marine Science biennial conference was held in Liverpool, attracting nearly 400 delegates from the UK and beyond.

The Challenger Society is a learned society for marine scientists and represents the UK academic marine research community. It also has links to the UK marine technology sector and policy community and, this year, the conference expanded its remit to include a session on data management. It also saw the first meeting of a new Special Interest Group for the society:“Marine Science Data Management”.


These moves by the Challenger Society are significant because they provide a forum to bridge the gap between the academic research scientists, who collect and use marine data, and the data scientists and data managers, who ensure data are easily discoverable, available to be re-used and curated for the long-term. Too often these communities work alongside each other without sharing ideas.

The session “Science impacts through Open Data” was convened by Helen Snaith (British Oceanographic Data Centre), Adam Leadbetter (Marine Institute) and Ekaterina Popova (National Oceanography Centre). There were around 100 attendees at the open data session, which featured presenters from the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC), The Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) and the Natural History Museum. Including both oral and poster presentations, the issues discussed covered a range of topics and data provenance. Access to state of the art model output and data from Argo floats and seal tags, rubbed shoulders with access to plankton data from the original Challenger Expedition of 1873-1876. Several presentations focused on international and national initiatives to make marine data openly available to all (e.g. SeaDataNet and MEDIN).

Image of sectors where marine data has potential to be re-used
Marine data from a range of sectors have the potential to be re-used in academic research carried out by Challenger Society members. MEDIN works to make data collected for different purposes available to all.

The Marine Science Data Management Special Interest Group (SIG) was held directly after the main conference and was convened by Matthew Donnelly (BODC), Clinton Blight (Sea Mammal Research Unit) and George Graham (Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science). Similarly, to the open data session in the main conference, the SIG attracted both data managers and academic researchers with an interest in data management. A series of informative and technical talks in the morning led onto the afternoon discussion session, which focused mainly on the need for marine data management training for students at UK universities. The SIG will be producing a report of the meeting and hopes to meet annually.

MEDIN co-ordinator Clare Postlethwaite said “The Challenger Society Conference is always a great event. Both the main conference and the Marine Science Data Management Special Interest Group meeting in Liverpool were very well organised. Including marine data management in the Challenger Society portfolio is a welcome addition and is already leading to new collaborations”.


NERC Vocabulary Server - Retirement of NVS1.0

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Vocabulary Server, hosted by the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC), provides access to lists of standardised terms used to describe data from a broad spectrum of disciplines of relevan to the scientific community.

The current version of the sever (NVS2.0) service has been in place since 2012 with BODC maintaining the original NVS (NVS1.0) service to allow users to switch at their convenience., Removal of the NVS1.0 service is has now become necessary to allow future NVS2.0 enhancements and functionality. Therefore from December 2016 the NVS1.0 service, which is accessed from will no longer be available.

More information...

MEDIN partners with M&CCE

Earlier this year in October MEDIN partnered the Marine & Coastal Civil Engineering exhibition event held at the Excel in London. A leading event in presenting and bringing together global solutions and innovative concepts to professionals working in hard engineering, coastal and river management, subsea engineering and flood risk authorities, this year's event had 80 speakers and 200 supplies.

For more on the speakers from this year event and information about attending next years event click here. 

More information...

M&CCE logo

RSS Discovery in Liverpool

As part of the Natural Environment Research Council's celebration of the best of British environmental science, Into the Blue, the Royal Research Ship Discovery visited Liverpool to show off the amazing environmental science she does.

More information...

Image of the RSS Discovery docked in Liverpool
Royal Research Ship Discovery docked at Liverpool

13th UK Young Coastal Scientists and Engineers Conference - Call for Abstracts

The conference aimed at early career scientists and engineers concerned with any aspect of physical coastal science or engineering is inviting the submission of abstracts for presentations or posters for the 13th UK Young Coastal Scientists and Engineers Conference (YCSEC).

The deadline for abstract submission is the 10th January 2017, with notification of acceptance on 10th February 2017.

Junior engineers, scientists and researchers in private companies and government agencies are encouragedto attend along withpost-graduate students and post-doctoral researchers in universities

The conference is organised and hosted by the University of Bath, and will take on the 11-12th April, 2017.

More information...

EMODnet Stakeholder Conference & Sea-basin 

This first EMODnet Stakeholder Conference will bring together EMODnet experts and interested stakeholders to consider whether the marine data collected via current observation and monitoring activities in Europe serve the needs of those who rely upon marine knowledge based on observations and monitoring data.

The Conference will present the findings of a series of EMODnet Sea-basin data stress tests (Checkpoints) and consider how to strengthen open data repositories to better serve actual user needs. Finally, the participants will discuss possible solutions and way forward to improve and better coordinate the existing and future monitoring and observation activities in Europe.

The Conference will take place on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 February 2017 at the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts in Brussels, Belgium.

The Conference is free to attend but registration is obligatory. To register please complete the registration form as soon as possible. Places are limited and attendance is granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

More information...

MEDIN Workshops

MEDIN offers free, one day workshop on the use of the MEDIN Data Guidelines and MEDIN Discovery Metadata Standard throughout the year.

Unfortunately all MEDIN workshops planned for this financial year are now fully booked. However should you wish to supply your preferred workshop location and date to Sean Gaffney; MEDIN will try and add you to the attendees list if any spaces become free.

If your organisation has a requirement for a large number of your staff to become familiar with MEDIN Data Guidelines and/or the Discovery Metadata Standard, please get in touch with Sean Gaffney as MEDIN may be able to run tailored workshops.

11 January 2017, Plymouth - Sold Out
11 January 2017,Plymouth - Sold Out

More information...

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