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Director's update


July 2017

Welcome to our July eNewsletter, which covers topics of interest to ecosystem researchers and infrastructure managers anywhere in the world: alignment of methods between countries and open access to ecosystem data.

The 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap presented to the Commonwealth Government earlier this year includes recommendations that seek to ensure a greater level of cohesion in Australia between the projects funded through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure grant. Collaboration and integration are particularly necessary for research infrastructure projects contributing to our understanding of Australia’s environmental systems. These projects include TERN, the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) and the Integrated Marine Observations System (IMOS), which among others, will be important players in providing data to the national integrated environmental prediction system recommended in the 2016 roadmap. Lack of harmonisation at a national level can only create inefficiencies in data collection, funding and management and lead to missed strategic opportunities for efficiently delivered data, data products, and value-added services to the broadest possible group of end-users.

In Australia, the NCRIS-funded infrastructure projects are already working together to achieve better synergy and synthesis of data for the benefit of users. Achieving greater research infrastructure alignment and data synthesis in Australia is a significant step towards integration at the international level. This drive to more cohesion within and between countries is recognised in a recent paper titled The Lack of Alignment among Environmental Research Infrastructures May Impede Scientific Opportunities. TERN is mentioned positively in the paper for its role within Australia in providing data essential for addressing societal challenges across large temporal and spatial scales.

Fortunately, TERN has the distinction of already working with many global partners to deliver data that are making a difference to our international capacity to undertake activities such as carbon accounting and climate modelling. In the story Measuring our breathing planet, TERN’s contribution to an international network of automated environmental observation towers is described. Indeed, Australasia contributes 30 of the 700 monitoring towers spread across every continent which are providing continuous, long-term observations of energy, carbon and water exchange between the atmosphere and terrestrial ecosystems.

More easily accessible data is a deliverable from better harmonisation of research infrastructure and that highlights out second issue in this newsletter: Responsible data publishing. Following recent articles in the scientific literature, we share opinions from within our ecosystem community about the need for and strength of national guidelines and tools for sensitive data, such as that related to threatened species. TERN is guided by such guidelines in carrying out its role as publicly-funded national ecosystem data infrastructure with a responsibility to deliver access to a wide range of ecosystem data. We welcome any thoughts you may have on this subject. 

I hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter.

Dr Beryl Morris

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