Data sharing could help address climate change challenges

Data sharing could help address climate change challenges

Vann: Foto: Ragnar Våg Pedersen

The sustainability of Europe’s ecosystems is under threat from the effects of climate change. Now a European collaboration is bringing together ecosystem research to help scientists and policymakers understand and forecast how ecosystems will respond to future changes.

 

Photo: Ragnar Våga Pedersen. Text: Siri Elise Dybdal

 

Climate change already has a sizeable impact on crop growth and yields, as well as natural ecosystems. Without sufficient understanding of the sensitive interdependencies between ecosystems and the environment, Europe will be unable to assess the impacts, control the risks or potentially utilise the benefits of anticipated large changes in our ecosystems. 

The EU project AnaEE (Infrastructure for Analysis and Experimentation on Ecosystem) aims to support scientists and policymakers in analysing, assessing and forecasting the impact of climate and other global changes on terrestrial ecosystems across Europe.

It incorporates a diverse range of ecosystems covering forest, grassland, shrub land, agricultural land and lakes.

AnaEE will foster capacity building in ecosystem science by providing state of the art facilities and structuring tools for the European research community.

It is also building links with existing European research infrastructures.

 

See the film AnaEE: Analysis and Experimentation on Ecosystems - an ambitious European research infrastructure here

 

Norwegian partner

 

The preparatory phase of the project commenced November 2012 and is set to run until 2016. It currently brings together 13 partners from 10 countries.

The Norwegian partner is Bioforsk, the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, which has a central role in terrestrial ecosystem research and experiments in Norway.

Bioforsk is now involved in the preparation face of AnaEE in relation to technical development plans and developing a roadmap for the distributed infrastructure. This includes being in charge of evaluation of data-processing tools and models for the technical roadmap, as well as organising one workshop on new advanced computation tools for environmental data.

In addition, Bioforsk will contribute its expertise on evaluating ecotrons, looking at provisions and technical demands.

 

Installing an ecosystem heating experiment – First steps of NFR funded MeadoWarm–project 2013-2016. Photo: Erling Fjelldal.

 

Data sharing

 

Today, the European research on terrestrial ecosystems is fragmented and not sufficiently coordinated. There is a need for improved integration of experimentations and greater synergy between field stations and analytical and modelling platforms.

Many research efforts also require massive computing resources and more integrated research efforts across scientific disciplines than what is achievable today.

Daniel Rasse, researcher at Bioforsk, who is involved in the preparatory-phase, says one of the key motivations behind AnaEE is to open up for data sharing within ecosystem research across Europe. This, he says, would benefit everyone.

To achieve this, the researchers are now mapping out the existing capacity, looking at tools to do more with the current data, as well as mapping the potential components (field stations, laboratory facilities etc.) for optimizing scientific output at the EU level.

“We are looking at what kind of systems need to be implemented, so that we can do more with the data. These systems must be able to compute large amounts of data on a European level,” says Rasse.

“But if we want to build new infrastructure, we first need to identify the holes in the current models and lab systems. Basically, we are looking at what is missing and what we need,” he explains.

Rasse points out that researchers across Europe currently use different methodologies, which makes it difficult to compare data. A common model would however change this:

“To be able to compare data, we need to standardise the procedures. This means that experiments would need to be done in a similar way in different locations,” he says.

 

The "JOVA monitoring watersheds" is an example of possible contribution to AnaEE for climate impacts on Norwegian ecosystems.

 

Increased quality of science

 

The pre-project also looks at areas such as legal and financial issues. When finished, the AnaEE preparatory phase project is to deliver an approved legal and governance structure, an agreed business plan with a pricing policy and detailed and realistic technical planning.

In addition, strategic issues – such as how to mobilise and obtain concrete commitments from the stakeholders on the AnaEE roadmap – will be further elaborated to guarantee a successful implementation process of the infrastructure required to place Europe among the world leaders in ecosystem science.

Rasse says AnaEE will help structure the currently fragmented research community on terrestrial ecosystems in Europe and increase the quality of science on the continent.

“For the scientific community, it would also guarantee long-term funding. Securing long term investments is a great challenge in science,” he points out.

“We would also have access to top equipment in Europe. And it would lead to intensified collaboration,” he adds.

“It is a major commitment to build and run the infrastructure. It needs to be run for 20 years to be meaningful,” he adds.

In addition, Rasse also points out that AnaEE will foster greater collaboration in the terrestrial research community within Norway.

About AnaEE:
  • AnaEE is a research infrastructure for experimental manipulation of managed and unmanaged terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, supporting scientists in analysing, assessing and forecasting the impact of climate and other global changes on ecosystems.
  • AnaEE will help scientists and policymakers develop solutions to the challenges of food security and environmental sustainability, and stimulate growth of a vibrant bioeconomy.
  • ExpeER (Experimentation in Ecosystem Research) forms the building blocks of the AnaEE distributed infrastructure by federating and structuring key existing experimental (and observational) infrastructures in ecosystem research in Europe.  AnaEE will enable many of the key infrastructures involved in ExpeER to be further enhanced and upgraded complemented by the development of  new sites and facilities so as to build an ambitious, state-of –the art Ecosystem Research Infrastructure with expert services at a pan-European Level.
  • AnaEE’s preparatory phase is co-funded by the EU under the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme from 2012 to 2016.