Programme overview

e-Science is research made possible through modern distributed computer power. Scientists working in collaboration may be dispersed throughout the country or the world, but can work together on large data sets, using terrascale computing resources and sharing computer-based research tools (the internet and the grid are the main infrastructures supporting this).

The UK e-Science Programme and the Core Programme had a total budget of over £250 million. NERC received £7 million over three years from the Science Budget 2001-2004, and a further £8 million from SR 2002, to engage in a cross-council e-Science initiative. The NERC e-Science programme funded eight projects between 2000 and 2006, which resulted in major collaborations between environmental scientists and computer scientists to enhance environmental research.

Background & objectives

NERC developed coupled Earth system models that improved both our understanding of complex interactions within and between the biosphere, the geosphere, the atmosphere and the hydrosphere, and our ability to confidently predict and resolve environmental problems. e-Science was an important initiative on the road to realising this objective, as it can help address issues that are impeding progress, including:

  • scaling (from the molecular to the global);
  • improving access to data and models;
  • linking data to models;
  • model to model coupling.

Reports & key findings

  1. e-Science: Harnessing the power of the internet for environmental research (PDF, 1.9MB) - NERC produced this publication to summarise the e-Science programme and the outcomes of the programme.
  2. Following the end of programme event the Royal Society published a special issue of its journal Philosophical Transactions A that focuses on a highly successful discussion meeting featuring the NERC e-Science programme, which is available online as an open source journal - external link.
  3. RCUK conducted an international review of the e-Science programme in 2009 and this produced a report of the e-Science international review and a subsequent RCUK e-Science action plan (PDF, 91KB) - external link.