Environmental Virtual Observatory (EVO)

Programme overview

The pilot Environmental Virtual Observatory (EVO) was a proof of concept project created to demonstrate that linking data, models and expert knowledge will provide cost effective answers to vital wide-ranging environmental issues, initially in the soil-water system.

The project exploited cloud computing to develop new applications for accessing, filtering and synthesising data to develop new knowledge and evaluation tools, developing exemplars at a local and national scale to demonstrate how the EVO could make environmental monitoring and decision making more efficient, effective and transparent to the whole community.

Background & objectives

A major challenge to our understanding of water-soil systems is to unravel the interactions between the hydrological and soil physical and biogeochemical networks that enable complex processes to take place. To meet this challenge requires systematic study of the complex interactions that make up the soil-water system using an integrative approach. Technical advances in data-mining and high-performance computing, as well as in cloud computing and near real-time environmental observations in both freshwater and terrestrial environments made this goal increasingly possible.

The pilot EVO project formed an integrated and collaborative research community with a range of research skills and access to cutting-edge technologies and environmental data to address fundamental research questions on water-soil systems at differing physical locations.

It demonstrated how environmental monitoring and decision making could be more efficient, effective and transparent to the whole community, utilising novel visualisation tools to promote cross-disciplinary communication and illustrate the effects of alternative strategies and solutions 'from town hall to Whitehall'.

Report & key findings

EVO final report (PDF, 2.9MB)