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TheStreet Open House

Elsevier And IEDA Announce Winner Of 2013 Data Rescue Competition For Earth Sciences

SAN FRANCISCO, January 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --

Elsevier, a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, and IEDA (Integrated Earth Data Applications), an NSF-funded data facility in the geosciences at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, announced the winner of the 2013 International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences at the American Geophysical Union meeting. The award - a stone trophy and $ 5,000 - was awarded to the NIMBUS Data Rescue Project, developed by the Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

The International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences has been established in 2013 by Elsevier and IEDA with the aim to improve preservation and access of data in the earth sciences discipline. This year's winner, The NIMBUS Data Rescue Project, managed the recovery, reprocessing and digitization of the infrared and visible observations of the Nimbus I, II and III satellites which were collected from 1964 to 1970, along with their navigation and formatting. Over 4,000 7-track tapes of global infrared satellite data were read and reprocessed. Nearly 200,000 visible light images were scanned, rectified and navigated. All the resultant data was converted to HDF-5 (NetCDF) format and freely distributed to users from NASA and NSIDC servers. This data was then used to calculate monthly sea ice extents for both the Arctic and the Antarctic.

"The Nimbus project rescued data of high relevance to climate research, extending the climatic record in the polar regions back for at least 16 years. The quality of the rescue process was exemplary. It had to overcome enormous challenges, requiring the development of hardware and software to recover the data from decayed media. What made this project the winner project though was the fact that it actually improved the quality of the original data for future use and that the approach that was developed can be re-used to rescue other dataset," said Kerstin Lehnert, Director of IEDA and chair of the judging panel.

In addition, three projects were singled out for honorary mention:

  • oldWeather, by the Zooniverse team ( http://www.oldweather.org/) - an effort that engages citizen volunteers to transcribe and curate weather observations from ships' logs, recorded decades and centuries ago;
  • Nuclear explosion signals ( http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/pi/Monitoring/Data/), a project that captured the information from 8,000 Soviet-era magnetic tapes, each holding about 10 megabytes of earthquake and explosion signal data archived at Borovoye, Kazakhstan, by Paul Richards and his team at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, the Institute of Dynamics of the Geospheres in Moscow, and the Russia Institute of Geophysical Research in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan;
  • Unlocking the Landsat archive ( http://www.ga.gov.au/earth-observation/accessing-satellite-imagery/future-of-landsat-archive.html) by Lockheed Martin Australia, focused on making available the images from six functional LANDSAT satellites spanning from 1972 to the current LANDSAT 5 and 7 missions, constituting the longest running enterprise for acquisition of satellite imagery of Earth.

In launching the competition, Elsevier and IEDA aimed to showcase the breadth, depth and diversity of existing initiatives for disclosing research data within the field of geosciences, to promote recognition of these efforts and to encourage new developments in this direction. In addition, they are hoping to encourage the establishment of a multi-disciplinary community across all areas of geosciences to discuss the multitude of tools and methods that are being developed to rescue data from oblivion and stimulate the sharing of knowledge, tools and standards pertaining to making research data reusable across various earth and environmental sciences domains.

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