Environmental science infrastructure across continents


The CoopEUS conference will be he;d in Helsinki, Finland, starting Sept. 30

The CoopEUS annual meeting will be held in Helsinki, Finland, starting Sept. 30

Infrastructure for research in the environmental sciences shouldn’t be constrained by national boundaries. That’s the idea behind Cooperation EU-US, or CoopEUS.

Launched by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the European Union through its Research Infrastructures action of the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, CoopEUS brings together American and European scientists involved in environmental research projects for collaboration that will facilitate building a truly global and integrated infrastructure to support environmental research. 

Large environmental research efforts, such as the NSF-funded National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) and the EU’s European Plate Observing System (EPOS) and LifeWatch, need a global, integrated research infrastructure in order to fully address issues that have global impacts. The key to creating this infrastructure is the ability to easily access and openly share data—both raw data collected by environmental sensors and research data from thousands of projects underway across both continents.

If CoopEUS is successful, it will help major initiatives such as NEON more quickly and seamlessly produce high-quality scientific results. In turn, that new knowledge will help individuals, organizations and governments understand and cope with major environmental issues, such as sea level rise and drought.

CoopEUS holds its annual meeting beginning Sept. 30 in Helsinki, Finland, and RENCI’s Chris Lenhardt, domain scientist for environmental data science and systems, will be there as the group’s newly appointed chair of the CoopEUS Strategic Cooperation Board.

The RENCI connection with CoopEUS means our own computer scientists, software engineers, and networking and data specialists could play a role in developing the CoopEUS roadmap and creating its research infrastructure. Through RENCI, CoopEUS also has the opportunity to link to some major data science initiatives, including the National Consortium for Data Science (NCDS) in the U.S., and the international Research Data Alliance (RDA). It also means software products produced by RENCI-led initiatives, such as the NSF-funded Water Science Software Institute, could be linked into the CoopEUS infrastructure.

It’s good to know there are organizations that understand the importance of data to 21st-century science and that value cooperation over competition. CoopEUS is only one of them, but the strategies it develops to enable data-driven environmental science could likely be applied to other fields of research, as well as to business, government and more.

So, here’s a shout out to those on both sides of the pond who helped create CoopEUS. It’s this kind of collaborative, innovative approach that will help us transform data from a whole lotta ones and zeros into a tool that moves science and society forward.

-Karen Green