This week the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) re-commissioned a Plymouth Marine Laboratory-led service, which provides processed and analysed Earth observation (EO) data to the UK’s scientific community.

The NERC Earth Observation Data Acquisition and Analysis Service (NEODAAS) is a unique operation of national importance that provides: satellite data to NERC researchers, funded projects and support for fieldwork activities; bespoke EO products, such as phytoplankton size; operationalised algorithms produced by NERC-funded research, and advice and training in the sources and best practice in EO.

As a result of using NEODAAS, downstream outputs from the scientific community have helped create strong and diverse economic and societal impacts, such as helping to identify locations for marine protected areas, supporting research into hazardous weather and monitoring volcanic activity.

The re-commissioning of NEODAAS allows the continuation of this service to the scientific community and offers the opportunity to expand the services it provides and its potential user base. One addition to the service is the inclusion of aircraft data processing to provide very high resolution, repeated observations at an extra level of detail to the satellite data. NEODAAS will also begin a more extensive training schedule, to help increase capacity in EO and remote sensing science.

Steve Groom, Head of Science for EO at PML and Director of NEODAAS, commented: “We are very pleased that NEODAAS has been re-commissioned for a further 5 years. The service is vital to support world-class environmental research undertaken across the UK and has fed into marine management policy decisions. We are keen to support our users engaging with sectors outside the scientific community, such as industry and business.”

NERC’s commissioning announcement follows a review of the science facilities investments in its Capability Portfolio, designed to ensure that funds continue to be reinvested in areas of current community need.

The following facilities have also been commissioned from 1 April 2019:

  • Field Spectroscopy Facility (FSF) at University of Edinburgh
  • Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) – Oxford 14C Facility (formerly the NERC Radiocarbon Facility) at SUERC and Oxford University
  • National Environmental Isotope Facility (NEIF) at the British Geological Survey (BGS), Oxford University, University of Bristol, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) & SUERC

NERC supports a variety of science facilities to underpin the UK environmental research community, funded through National Capability. These provide regional or national access to innovative technologies that are applicable to a wide range of environmental science disciplines, but are either not widely available elsewhere or are prohibitively expensive for individual institutions to provide.

NERC Chief Executive Duncan Wingham said: “Our National Capability fund enables researchers to enhance their NERC-funded research with the help of specialist expertise, technologies and techniques. The review of our portfolio will allow the UK to retain its global leadership in earth and environmental sciences, and enable our researchers to push the boundaries of knowledge.”