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U.S. Builds Synthesis Centre for Open Access Data

shot of network cables and servers in a technology data center

The U.S. National Research Foundation has announced the establishment of the Environmental Data Science Innovation and Inclusion Lab, or ESIIL, to assist in the analysis and integration of these data, enhance the use of data-intensive methodologies and advance training in environmental science.

Combining and synthesising data sets that offer information at various scales is necessary to comprehend the effects of climate change and the loss of biodiversity as well as to predict and be ready for catastrophic environmental disturbances like wildfires, floods, and drought.

Hence, the wealth of open environmental data will advance the ability to predict changes in the environment and for life on Earth, thus the ESIIL’s efforts will make these data operational by everyone, from policymakers, and researchers to educators.

By leveraging NSF’s investments in data and measurement, along with support for innovation in environmental cyberinfrastructure, ESIIL will spearhead advancement in the data-intensive team science that is becoming critical in a highly connected and increasingly virtual world.

– Joanne Tornow, Assistant Director, NSF’s Directorate for Biological Sciences.

NSF’s Directorate for Biological Sciences and Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure are both contributing funding to the new synthesis centre. Environmental networks and observatories established by NSF and other U.S. science agencies are producing much open access biological and other environmental data sets. All these data sets are available to the public for free.

Scientists have found that there is a significant need for the research community to evaluate and create cutting-edge computational tools to make effective use of these data as well as to set up and educate teams to address open-ended research subjects.

Together with CyVerse from the NSF, ESIIL will work to diversify environmental data by holding inclusivity as a core value. Through cross-sector alliances, Innovation Summits, and Earth Hackathons, it will also encourage use-inspired research.

By connecting to data sources like the National Ecological Observatory Network, Long-Term Ecological Research Network, Ocean Observatories Initiative, and Critical Zone Collaborative Network, ESIIL’s open Collaborative and Scalable Environment cyberinfrastructure will lower barriers to scientific collaboration.

In addition, it will offer analytics and cloud computing, as well as customised user experiences. The impact of ESIIL will be amplified by posting open educational resources on a learning and research portal.

This powerful and cutting-edge cyberinfrastructure will address key scientific challenges and offer cutting-edge and useful tools and solutions to the larger community. It includes AI-enabled data analytics pipelines, which are essential to ESIIL’s vision and practises.

Meanwhile, the National Science Foundation and the Czech Science Foundation are collaborating on a new project involving scientists from the University of California, San Diego, and Extreme Light Infrastructure Beamlines in the Czech Republic to demonstrate the efficient generation of dense gamma-ray beams.

Because of their high energies, stellar objects such as pulsars can generate matter and antimatter directly from light. In fact, a pulsar’s magnetic field, or “magnetosphere,” is filled with electrons and positrons produced by colliding photons.

Replicating the same phenomenon in a laboratory on Earth is extremely difficult. It requires a dense cloud of photons with energies millions of times greater than visible light, which has thus far eluded scientists working in this field.

The Extreme Light Infrastructure, also known as ELI ERIC facilities, will create the necessary conditions to test the theory that high-power lasers should be able to produce a photon cloud as the first international laser research infrastructure dedicated to the application of high-power and high-intensity lasers.

These experiments will be the first to provide a statistically significant study of gamma-ray generation using high-power lasers.

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