Access to marine data is invaluable to both researchers, within many scientific disciplines, and UK industries, who provide services such as fisheries management, weather forecasting, marine biodiversity/ conservation and environmental planning. The NERC EDS (Environmental Data Service) provides users with a rich source of accessible marine data from the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) (including ocean hydrology, chemistry, biology, geophysics and seismic data) and marine geology and geophysics data from the National Geoscience Data Centre (NGDC).
UK marine biodiversity provides both valuable habitats and crucial goods and services, including food provision, raw materials, leisure and recreation, gas and climate regulation. UK biodiversity is estimated to be worth £2670 billion to the UK (Küpper and Kamenos, 2017). Access to marine data enables the development of tools and policies which support the sustainable management of the marine environment.
A collaboration between the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UK Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) and the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) recently conducted a survey to explore the economic impact (exploring value chains) of publicly-funded marine data in the UK. MEDIN is hosted by the BODC, who along with the NGDC, are two of MEDIN’s seven accredited Data Archive Centres (DACs). The results of this first national survey (which included users of BODC and the marine part of NGDC) are reported in Jolly et al. (2021), with the following key findings:
The marine data landscape in the United Kingdom is diverse and complex with a diverse user-base.
Multiple industries use marine data made openly available through the DACs (including BODC and NGDC), most in ocean scientific research and development, followed by offshore wind and marine renewable energy, and marine fishing.
Private sector users as well as users from research centres responded that they were using public marine data to create revenue generating products. 26% of these revenue generating users work in the offshore wind and renewable energy industry, 25% in academia and research institutes, 14% in offshore industry support activities and 14% in marine mining and dredging.
A large range of data types were downloaded by the users, with 43% downloading physical oceanography data, 21% downloading data relating to human activities and 20.5% downloading biological oceanography data.
Almost a third (31%) of respondents reported that they downloaded data regularly (daily, weekly or monthly).
Users of multiple data types currently use linkages via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and similar tools, including marine geology (24%), physical oceanography (19%) and terrestrial data (19%).
More than half of all respondents were marine scientists, with half of the respondents working in academia or research centres.
Jolly et al. (2021) also reported that marine data is increasingly being used to support the development of tools and policies which generate societal and economic benefits for the marine sector. Such benefits were shown to include revenues associated with the sale of derived information products as well as gains in efficiency or productivity derived from such products or services (i.e. costs savings, cost avoidance and increased revenues). Other societal benefits identified included those arising from better Ocean governance and environmental performance. The study by Jolly et al. (2021) helps to quantify the value of the marine data provided by the DACs, which includes BODC and the NGDC, to the UK economy.
Jolly, C., et al. (2021) Value chains in public marine data: A UK case study, OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers, No. 2021/11, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/d8bbdcfa-en
Küpper, F. C. and Kamenos, N. A. (2017) The future of marine biodiversity and marine ecosystem functioning in UK coastal and territorial waters (including UK Overseas Territories), Government Office for Science.