The Minister for Universities & Science, David Willetts, announced last week £4.6m of new NERC investment in 24 'Big Data' projects, two of which are PML led.
These projects will allow the UK research community to take advantage of existing environmental data for science and societal benefit. Out of the 24 awarded, the single largest grant went to PML to fund the UK contribution to the international Bio-Argo network. Argo floats are at the cutting-edge of ocean observation, measuring characteristics of the ocean such as temperature and salinity. The new data collected by the Bio-Argo floats, combined with ship-borne observations and satellite data, will revolutionise our understanding of biological, chemical and physical processes and interactions of the marine environment.
PML was also awarded funding for experimental large-scale data services and visualisation facilities for Earth observation and model data. Big Data projects such as this will help with problems including those where large file sizes are present, there are a wide variety of data types, data needs to be analysed in real time, or where large quantities of data held on paper need to be made digital.
Professor Duncan Wingham, NERC's Chief Executive, said that the funding will “enable a new kind of science by allowing researchers to run potentially complex environmental models, to capture real-time data from sensors embedded in the natural environment, and to support the synthesis of this information impacting on science, policy and the economy."
Analysis of Big Data sets allows PML scientists the opportunity for new scientific insights and also for translational research to transform the use and exploitation of environmental data and research in the wider community.