Marine Data News Issue 46
November 2020
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In this issue of Marine Data News...
MEDIN envision FAIR data!
The Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) is a collaborative and open partnership, working together to improve access to and management of marine data. Our vision is that all UK marine data are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. We are delivering this vision by providing:  

 The MEDIN portal - a single place to find UK marine data. 

The MEDIN data archive centres - providing long-term access to the UK’s valuable and unique marine data.
A marine metadata standard – developed using interoperable systems. 

Marine data guidelines – community developed guidelines to ensure data are reusable

Contact if you would like to find out more. 
 One-click data download from MEDIN portal 
The British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) have demonstrated a one-click download of data from the MEDIN metadata portal using a tool called ERDDAP. ERDDAP is a technology developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) which has been adopted globally for marine data management [1]. Supporting the development and use of ERDDAP infrastructure allows federated data services and improved accessibility of data under the Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reusability (FAIR) guiding principles for data. 

Through ERDDAP, a user can choose to subset the data by parameters, time frame, location and other filters to download the data they need and from a range of file formats ERDDAP provides.

MEDIN funding enabled BODC to start building a new delivery workflow for discrete water measurements. As a demonstrator, the Liverpool Bay Coastal Observatory Discrete Water Sample Data Set was chosen to be exposed. This dataset contains 38 parameters and 35,767 data values. A user handling this dataset through traditional delivery routes would have to interact with thousands of files. ERDDAP can give the user this data in one file.
Above: Figure 1 MEDIN one-click portal
Users now have two options for downloading this dataset (Figure 1). One click of the URL on the MEDIN metadata record downloads the entire Liverpool Bay Coastal Observatory dataset, in a .csv file format, or a click to the ERDDAP instance of this dataset. Here users can subset or graph and subsequently download a subset of the dataset.

BODC are keen to improve the FAIRness of their data holdings and see ERDDAP as a great tool for improving data accessibility.


Marine Scotland revives large zooplankton data collection 

Marine Scotland Science has been collecting data in Scottish Seas for over a century, and a large amount of data has been collected on lower trophic levels to understand their linkage to environmental signals and fisheries.

While large collections of physical records remain, a recent student placement has moved archived material from a structured, but scattered collection of digital files into a central database with a flexible data model that can take in new data collected. The student placement was part of the Data Lab annual placements of MSc. Students in data science courses from Scottish universities. The Data Lab is a Scottish Innovation Centre for promoting the uptake of data science and technology led solutions.

Due to Covid restrictions, Georgios Orfanakis from Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University (RGU) worked completely remotely on the project, but connected regularly with staff from Marine Scotland to discuss data models, and practical questions on different samplers, vessels, projects etc. Over the course of 12 weeks, he transformed and imported data from 57 surveys. This now provides Marine Scotland Science staff with access to more than 215,000 zooplankton samples and more than 18 million results of plankton species or size category abundance data.

Much of the data involved was from projects which involved staff who have retired or moved so it was important to capture this in a well-structured and accessible format. Georgios worked exceptionally well with his analytical and data management colleagues to plan out a flexible data model which will be used to help monitor the status of zooplankton, an absolutely fundamental component of marine food webs, and for research and assessments, for years to come.

With the data in a central collection, Marine Scotland will now update MEDIN metadata and create new records where data have not previously been readily available.

Other sources:

Reflections on the MASTS 2020 Annual Science Meeting: a decade of innovation
The global Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on all our lives, and one result was that the 2020 MASTS Annual Science Meeting went online! Using the event-hosting platform HopIn, we welcomed over 500 registrants from 28 countries. Not only did this make the 2020 ASM a truly global event, it made it a more inclusive event, and also significantly reduced our carbon footprint (more on that once we have crunched the numbers!)
We hosted 85 flash talks (delivered from all around the globe) in sessions which included five general science sessions, and special sessions on Governing Scottish Seas: theory, practice and future horizons; Structures in the Marine Environment (joint with the INSITE team); Marine Climate Change; Coastal ecosystem-based solutions; Multiple Marine Stressors; Aquaculture; and Technologies & Methodologies.

When not listening to talks, attendees participated in e-poster sessions and speed-networking, visited our global exhibitors, or linked up for one-to-one’s with others visiting the conference.

We were delighted to host four enthusiastic and inspiring plenary speakers:

  • Matthew Dawkins, an R&D Engineer with the US Company Kitware talked to us about VIAME - Video and Image Analytics for Marine Environments: an Open-Source Do-it-yourself AI Toolkit. 
  • Peter Macreadie, leader of the Blue Carbon Lab at Deakin University, Australia gave us a whistle-stop tour of his research, which spans wetland carbon, ecology, ecosystem restoration, climate change, natural capital, citizen science and more!
  • Gideon Henderson, Chief Scientific Advisor at DEFRA gave us a policy perspective by outlining why the UK Government cares about the Ocean.
  • Kerstin Forsburg, Founder & Director of Planeta Oceano, Peru (and a PhD student at Heriot Watt University) provided our final plenary, looking at multi-disciplinary and participatory strategies for marine conservation.
MASTS and the Society for Underwater Technology hosted the workshop “Salvage, Decommissioning & Wreck Removal. Influence, educate and unlock opportunities: Informing global sustainability challenges”. This workshop hosted Laura DeLa Torre who spoke about the OSPAR Strategic Overview. Other workshops included “Plastics in the Ocean”, which was jointly hosted by MASTS & ScotChem, and training led by Prof Mark Reed and ARCH-UK for PhD students and ECRs looking to maximise the impact from their research.

Prof David Paterson (MASTS Executive Director) closed the conference with the student prize-giving (sponsored by IMarEST). Congratulations to our talk winners: Celeste Kellock (University of Stirling) & Izzy Langley (University of St Andrews), and our e-poster winners: Corallie Hunt (University of St Andrews) & Natalie Isaksson (North Highland College, UHI).

Next year’s ASM is 5-7 October 2021 – we hope to see you then! Follow us on twitter or sign up to our mailing list to be kept up to date.

New digital project launched to tackle flood hazard 

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has awarded the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) one of seven individual grants that will use cutting-edge digital technology to advance environmental outcomes.

Led by Dr Jenny Brown, NOC Coastal Oceanographer, the new project ‘Coastal REsistance: Alerts and Monitoring Technologies’ (CreamT) will develop a new point-of-impact flood hazard nowcasting system to meet national coastal management needs, which will have the potential to issue flood alerts to the National Flood Forecasting Service. This work carries on from the WireWall project which developed a novel field instrument able to measure the speed and volume of individual waves as they overtopped a sea wall.

Dr Brown said, “Our team of collaborators, including scientists, engineers and artists, are eager to tackle the challenges of the high energy coastal environments at Penzance and Dawlish. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to benefit local communities by developing this innovative real-time flood hazard observation system, with the potential for integration into navigation systems diverting people away from flood hazard. We will also be engaging the local community in coastal hazard monitoring through the development of a self-guided coastal walk accompanied by an Augmented Reality phone app that will allow people to visualise storms during calm conditions.”

As part of the NERC-led ‘Constructing a Digital Environment’ Programme, these seven projects all seek to develop tools and systems that will tackle real-life environmental challenges. The Programme aims to construct a digitally enabled environment which benefits researchers, policy makers, businesses, communities and individuals. It is funded through the Strategic Priorities Fund.

Above: WireWall equipment being tested as waves over top the sea wall

The programme is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). In total, the grants comprise an investment of more than £6 million. You can find out more about the seven successful projects, all lasting 24 months, on the NERC/UKRI website.

OceanWise release innovative Global Raster Chart dataset

OceanWise, the leading UK supplier of Intelligent Marine and Coastal Mapping Data is pleased to announce the release of its Global Raster Chart dataset of the worlds' oceans: ‘Raster Chart XL Oceans’ (RCXL Oceans).

RCXL Oceans is a new fast service which is widely accessible using most GIS software. It is perfect for those practitioners and decision makers looking to add a familiar authoritative mapping source to their business proposals, GIS projects and Web Mapping Applications.

OceanWise Operations Manager Caroline Levey commented “We are really proud to be launching this extension to our mapping range and firmly believe that Raster Charts XL Oceans it is the most convenient and cost-effective way to access global Nautical Charts in Desktop and web GIS environments”.
With the land mask removed from all Nautical Charts, RCXL Oceans is ready to be paired with the user- preferred land mapping dataset (for example; Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, Bing, etc.).

If you want to try it out, please access a demo version of RCXL Oceans and other OceanWise mapping products here
To purchase, if you are a commercial customer you can purchase the range of OceanWise mapping products via their Licensed Partners (including; FIND Maps, Emapsite, Europa Technologies and Digimap Jersey/Guernsey etc ). Please see their website for more details

Above: OceanWise RXCL Oceans map

The Raster Chart evolution….

Ever since the first paper nautical chart was scanned and georeferenced over three decades ago, the geographic information community has struggled to use them efficiently within GIS software and map making solutions. This is primarily due to the chart being designed for use as a finished map in isolation. It contains, as part of the output, printed metadata such as source data diagrams, compass roses, notices to mariners and tidal diamond tables to name but a few. These are usually drawn near the margins or over areas of lesser navigational interest, often overwriting the land features!
When Raster charts are loaded in a GIS, these superfluous items often conflict with other data layers producing a cluttered and undesirable visual result. Secondly, charts are not produced to a consistent set of scales or bounded to a strict grid or tile set. Instead they are drawn to a set of defined scale-related  ‘usage bands’ which dictate when they should be used on-board a ship, dependent on whether it is at the berthing, pilotage or passage making stages of a sea-going journey.
The result is charts that overlap and depict different information to the user based on the related usage band; often with multiple depictions of a single real world feature. In short it’s not been easy to use a set of raster charts together in a GIS! OceanWise’ Raster Charts XL product solves this issue!

Mark Jonas, Technical Director at OceanWise commented “With Raster Charts XL we are no longer bound by the limitations we once had when working with raster charts. As well as removing land features, there is potential to remove other features that are not required within the marine component of the chart such as the compass rose which is of little use within a GIS. We can also remove the simple three-tone depth shading allowing depth soundings and other marine features to remain alongside a bathymetry surface of the users’ choice. With these tools we can ensure that the raster chart remains a powerful data source and continues to have a place in the future of marine GIS data”.
Since launching Raster Charts XL, OceanWise has been gradually extending coverage as new areas become available. This latest development comes “as part of an ongoing dedication to improving and innovating digital marine mapping so that we can better support those who work in coastal and maritime industries”.   
Contribute to Seabed 2030 project
The Nippon Foundation – General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) Seabed 2030 Project launches a study on the value of seabed mapping. Seabed 2030 has been established to revolutionise the world’s understanding of the ocean floor. We want to catalyse policy decisions, sustainable actions and scientific research informed by detailed bathymetric information. 

The project was launched officially by the Chairman of The Nippon Foundation at the UN Ocean Conference in 2017, with operational activity commencing in 2018. In time terms, therefore, we are now nearly a quarter of the way through our 13-year challenge of mapping the world’s seafloor by 2030. We have been hugely encouraged by the support we have received to date from the marine geospatial community. Advice, support and enthusiastic encouragement has been gratefully received.

The more data we acquire about the details of seabed shape, the more we recognize that the ocean and its floor are more dynamic than we ever thought. The shape of the seabed is a crucial parameter for understanding ocean circulation patterns that distribute heat between the tropics and poles.

We started the Seabed 2030 project with a strong commitment to avoid duplication and instead work towards fostering a close collaboration for the most efficient use of global resources.
By cataloguing models used to help quantify the environmental, social and economic values and benefits of seabed mapping, we will be in a much better position to articulate the areas in greatest need of being surveyed – and, crucially, why government, industry, academia and philanthropy should support such activity.

It’s now time to really put the “Wind in the Sails” of our mission, and power towards producing the definitive, high res­olution bathymetric map of the entire ocean by the year 2030.

To contribute to the survey, please click the button below.
Contribute to Seabed 2030

Join the NERC Environmental Data Discovery Trails, you might get a reward!

The “From the river catchment to deep ocean” trail will run for two events on:
  • 12:00 25th Nov 2020 - 12:00 28th Nov 2020
  • 12:00 29th Nov 2020 - 12:00 2nd Dec 2020
To improve the accessibility of data collected through NERC-funded research, or managed by NERC data centres, we are collecting feedback on the user experience (UX) to improve the navigation of our various web portals to assess these data.

To gather feedback we are inviting you to take part in our Environmental Data Discovery Trails. The events will run as a short online quizzes, which will ask you to navigate a website and find the information linked to each trail. If you complete all of the feedback boxes you’ll be entered into a prize draw for a reward.

At the end of November we will launch two events to give you the opportunity to navigate “From the river catchment to deep ocean” following a trail through the UK-CEH SCAPE and BODC websites. There will be daily draws made for 10 NERC water bottles and a single prize draw for £100 made after each event. Post-event the trail link will remain available as an educational resource only.
More Events!

Marine Autonomy and Technology Showcase 10-12th November

Registration is now open for the National Oceanography Centre’s Marine Autonomy and Technology Showcase (MATS) 2020, which will be held as a virtual event for the first time from 10-12 November.

MATS 2020 will still feature a packed three-day programme offering a unique opportunity to find out about the latest developments in marine autonomous technology and how this field is set to develop in the years to come. 

This year’s event will feature an additional session focusing on the Command and Control, data collection and data management element of the Oceanids Programme. To express interest in joining this session - and if you have any other questions about MATS 2020 - please email 

Tickets are priced at £130 (including VAT) for the three-day online event, with a limited number of student places available costing £80. The full programme can be found here.

This year’s keynote speakers are Leslie-Ann McGee, Assistant Director of the Consortium For Marine Robotics at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Neil Tinmouth, Chief Operating Officer at SEA-KIT International Ltd. We announced our session chairs earlier in the year.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales are hiring!

Senior Investigator (Maritime)

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales is looking to recruit a Senior Investigator (Maritime), a key post in its Survey and Investigation team.

  • Job title: Senior Investigator (Maritime)
  • Responsible to: Head of Knowledge & Understanding
  • Location: Royal Commission Office, Penglais Road, Aberystwyth, SY23 3BU
  • Duration: Permanent
  • Grade: Band D/HEO
  • Pay scale: £29,850 per annum rising to £36,500 per annum in four annual increments (Appointment will usually be at the minimum of the pay scale)
  • Hours: 37 hours per week (we will consider applications from individuals seeking part time or flexible working arrangements)

Closing date for applications: 1 December 2020

More info...
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