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GLOBIS-B Report Summary

Project ID: 654003
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GLOBIS-B (GLOBal Infrastructures for Supporting Biodiversity research)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Biodiversity and ecosystem research is addressing the grand societal challenge to predict the biosphere under global environmental change. Currently such prediction is not possible for the full biosphere, and only an assumption for a specific region or a few species. One problem is that relevant data (mainly time series) are scattered over many repositories with too many gaps to be used straightforward. Another problem is that scientific views on how to tackle this cannot easily being tested with a common approach by just deploying the available data. The GEO Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) has proposed a set of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs), relevant to express change at the various dimensions of biodiversity (as for example genes, species, communities). To advance scientific progress in understanding the complexity of natural systems it is required that supporting research infrastructures cooperate globally to serve the essential data at different temporal and spatial scales, as well as the services to deploy the data for specific applications. This includes providing the capabilities to process big and massive datasets in computational workflows based on data and web services from different research infrastructures. The GLOBIS-B project is promoting a global cooperation of world-class research infrastructures with a focus on targeted services to support frontier research that deals with predicting the biosphere and measuring the indicators of biodiversity change.

The objectives of GLOBIS-B are defined as follows:
1. To facilitate the multi-lateral cooperation of global research infrastructures to support frontier research on Predicting the Biosphere with a focus on Essential Biodiversity Variables(EBV).
2. To specify user’s requirements for extracting, handling and analysing the required biodiversity data for EBV classes from diverse sources.
3. To develop an integrated research agenda with these requirements allowing research infrastructures to enhance existing capabilities or develop new ones.
4. To agree on realistic solutions for supporting the user requirements (the research agenda) so that the research infrastructures can offer targeted services to calculate the selected EBVs.
5. To draw up best practices for infrastructure support addressing the biodiversity grand challenges.
6. To address the legal implications with respect to licensing, intellectual property rights (IPR), and sharing of resources.
7. To communicate and disseminate outcomes to policy stakeholders and other interest groups.

The project brings key scientists together with global research infrastructure operators, technical experts, and legal interoperability experts to address the research needs and technical solutions allowing the research infrastructures to support the understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem change. In the first half of the project, already two integrated scientific and technical workshops identified the required primary data, analysis tools, methodologies etc. to develop an infrastructure development agenda for computing for EBVs on the change of species distributions through time. It was discussed how applications of common standards and workflows may become ‘self-documenting’ and openly shared to facilitate international cooperation. Another key issue is how realistic and pragmatic solutions may streamline the legal bottlenecks for the reciprocal use of data and software tools from different origins. Solutions should be workable for both the scientific communities and the cooperating research infrastructures, especially in regard to achieving direct machine-machine interactions. The interaction with national, supra-national and global policy bodies contributes to potential refinements of general policies supporting legal interoperability.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Work Package 1 (Coordination and Management) administered the financial resources, linked the different project components, and reported to the European Commission. With the achieved visibility of the project in international forums, the work package promoted further engagement of research infrastructures to consider the implementation of the initial views of the project.
Work package 2 (Focus on user requirements) assisted in the discussion about scientific questions underpinning the concept of EBVs, and on what are the related data and technical requirements to compute the EBVs. Two workshops resulted in a multi-author paper submitted for open access publication.
Work Package 3 (Data and technical services for infrastructure delivery) brought together the technical experts and infrastructure operators to map the above requirements with existing possibilities of the research infrastructures. A design for a computational workflow helped to accommodate the requirements, or at least to identify which contributions for workflow components could be expected from each infrastructure.
Work Package 4 (Policy and legal issues) started addressing the legal interoperability of data and software. Too often these are very different, complicating the correct use of data and software. As a matter of fact, this is quite an obstacle when composing a workflow with components from different origins and owners, especially when legal licenses are not machine readable and interpretable. The cooperation with a RDA working group resulted in recommendations on best practices for data owners. The next pending actions is to organise a high-level meeting with GEO, IPBES and CBD to demonstrate how the cooperating research infrastructures can contribute to realizing their objectives.
Work Package 5 (Dissemination and workshop organisation) dealt with outreach mechanisms and the organisation of the project workshops. Both contributed to a strong visibility of the project and its contributions to infrastructure interoperability in support of constructing EBVs.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Halfway its life time, the project achieved already impact on its major objectives with respect to promoting the cooperation of global biodiversity research infrastructures, especially in support of constructing workflows for computing EBVs, possibly in an open science cloud. This also did support a better understanding of how to bring EBVs into operation. The workshops bringing together top scientists with infrastructure operators and technical and legal experts had in addition the major impact of creating a community of research infrastructures and users focusing on the global challenge of biodiversity loss. In the second half of the project, it is planned to sustain follow-up action by considering the further role of cooperating research infrastructures in interaction with relevant global policy bodies (GEO, IPBES, CBD).

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