Professor Robert Gurney, NERC Environmental Information Coordinator
The Natural Environment Research Council is the main funder of environmental research in the UK. It funds work in universities and all the data are put in a set of data centres.
NERC has a set of centres: the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the British Antarctic Survey, the National Oceanographic Centre, the British Geological Survey, the National Centre for Earth Observation and the National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences. It also works very closely with allied bodies like the Met Office and increasingly with the range of catapult activities from the Technology Strategy Board including the Space Applications Catapult.
Earth observation data is inherently global measuring the earth from satellites. It includes information on sea surface temperature, land surface temperature, land cover globally and of the UK.
The geophysical data that are available, many different sorts, including physical samples as well as digital data, mainly for the UK for use for building, quarrying and the oil industry, and similar civil engineering activities.
The ecological and hydrological data include information about flooding and about land cover change, the biodiversity of the UK and is used mainly for flood mapping and monitoring, and also for making sure that we preserve the biodiversity of the UK.
Polar data mainly about the Antarctic is information about the atmosphere, ocean (including the life in the ocean), the geology, soils and the ice sheet and how they’ve changed in time.
A nice example is where the British Antarctic Survey discovered the ozone hole from looking at long-time series of atmospheric data.
The power of bringing all the big data sets together, is that we get a holistic view of the environment, not just a view from the geologists, or the view from atmospheric sciences.
We can really understand how the planet is changing, how the UK is changing, why it’s changing, and then use those predictions to know where to invest.
- Solving business problems with environmental data (NERC)
- Solving business problems with environmental data (TSB)