Elephant seals fitted with sensors have collected data in Antarctica that is helping scientists understand how melting ice shelves are affecting the global climate system. Data collected by gliders is tracking warming in the Great Barrier Reef. And ocean current data has been used to predict speeds for the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
Hundreds of organisations collect vast quantities of ocean and climate data during research projects such as these. To help scientists make important discoveries about weather, climate and marine ecosystems, the data — gathered along our coastline and in open waters — are consolidated and made freely available in an online portal: the Australian Ocean Data Network (AODN).
The AODN exists thanks to a nationwide collaboration led by the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) — a national collaborative research infrastructure — supported by sophisticated information architecture and underpinned by the AARNet network.
Via the University of Tasmania, the AODN portal is connected to AARNet’s high-speed research and education network. With almost all the contributing organisations and researchers also connected to AARNet, the service relies on high-speed, high-quality broadband to transfer massive amounts of data between the observing devices, the organisations that process the data and finally on to the AODN to be delivered to scientists and researchers.
Peter Blain, Information Systems Architect at IMOS, explains more about the architecture underpinning the tool.
“In order to share their data with AODN, contributing organisations typically host their collections remotely and feed them into the portal using webservices and ISO 19115 compliant metadata.
“The metadata is harvested from contributors and stored in a GeoNetwork instance that sits behind the AODN Portal. The data is then served via the AODN portal, where anyone can search, aggregate, subset and download it.”
“Single data collections can be large – up to 1 TB – and on the other side, scientists can download terabytes of data at a time,’ explains Peter. “Without access to AARNet, this data transfer would be costly and slow.”
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