Environmental Big Data Capital

In the autumn statement (2013) allocation from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), NERC was awarded £13 million capital funding to support 'Big Data'.

NERC is using the funds to develop the cyber-infrastructure needed to give open access to big data, to provide computers capable of running complex environmental models and to capture real time data from sensors. It will also support the synthesis of this information so as to inform a variety of stakeholders, including researchers, policymakers and business.

Between 2013 and 2015, NERC invested the capital funding in:

  • The computing and storage capacities of the JASMIN - external link National Data Computing Facility. Developments encompassed batch computing, a virtual hosting service and a private cloud, all connected to a very high-performance storage subsystem.

  • Further development of the academic component of the Climate & Environmental Monitoring from Space (CEMS) - external link - facility (hosted by NERC / Science & Technology Facilities Council), which enabled the research community to access and manipulate high-volume Earth observation data as well as to support the link to the commercial components of CEMS and to its partners, customers and end-users. Academic inquiries are now made through the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis - external link. CEMS aims to support NERC-funded users of CEMS at minimal cost, and for projects where funding has been obtained directly from NERC, at no cost to the users.

  • Cloud-based software infrastructure to support environmental science. Building upon the cloud technology demonstrated in the completed Environmental Virtual Observatory - external link pilot, the software infrastructure aimed to provide a range of resources within the cloud (including, data retrieval, interactive visualisation, statistical analysis and modelling tools). This enabled stakeholders to access and experiment with such resources in an intuitive way.

  • Environmental Big Data capital assets across the research community to exploit environmental data for science and end-user engagement. A £4·6 million Capital Call, held in summer 2013, covered the full breadth of NERC remit, aiming to enable future progress where handling big data previously hampered output. The assets include digital conversion of historical data, equipment to generate new big data, processing and storage hardware for future datasets, and new software to share, explore and visualise data.

    Full details of all the Big Data funded projects (PDF, 294KB)