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June 2020 

ENVRI Community News

+COVID-19
UPDATES

Welcome to the latest edition of ENVRI community news. We bring you the latest information about European Environmental Research Infrastructures.
 

Newsletter theme: ENVRI vs Coronavirus

Dear ENVRI community!

The SARS-CoV2 epidemic currently sweeping Europe and the world also affects climate research. To stay informed about how the situation has impacted the different ENVRI research infrastructures (and to better make visible opportunities to consult or collaborate) we have put together this special Coronavirus-themed newsletter.

As we know with climate change, global problems require global solutions, which again require accurate knowledge. The current situation poses many exceptional challenges, but many research infrastructures have stepped up and put their capacities to good use in the fight against the virus. These efforts can be found below.

Stay safe!

A statement by ENVRI regarding COVID-19:

European Environmental Research Infrastructures organized in the ENVRI cluster cannot assist directly in tackling the burning issues related to COVID-19 pandemic, but we can help understanding the environmental conditions which favor the evolution of pandemic, particularly when related to a warming climate, changes in ecosystems or biodiversity losses.

Download the statement.

You can also find it on the ENVRI community space in Zenodo.

This section focuses on environmental research infrastructures responses to COVID-19, showcasing several new services and forms of support that were introduced since the outbreak’s onset.

 

Material and educational support

 AnaEE has donated materials such as appropriate protective masks and medical coats, CRP kits and qCRP measurement devices to hospitals and involved research institutes.  INTERACT has been active in organizing distance learning to students in the time when all universities are closed, while  Eurofleets+ will develop a suite of multi-disciplined online tutorials and education training materials for Floating Universities to support the continued development of early stage researchers to mitigate against reduced access to Research Vessels now and in the future due to operational protocols in place to combat COVID-19.

Sharing research capacity

 ACTRIS has actively engaged with the wider community of Research Infrastructures in Europe to support joint activities for SARS-CoV-2 research. ACTRIS is collaborating with the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) and the Association of European-Level Research Infrastructures Facilities (ERF-AISBL) to create dedicated spaces favoring the uptake of services offered by RIs in support of scientists conducting research related to SARS-CoV-2.  EUROCHAMP, meanwhile, has offered up its simulation chamber FORTH-ASC (Greece) for testing the resistance of the virus on some emergency medical materials such as masks, gloves, etc.  EMBRC has similarly enabled and supported research into deriving potential treatments targeting Coronaviruses from marine organisms. The Eurofleets+ Remote Transnational Access programme will facilitate the collection of physical and data samples for the measurement of environmental changes as a result of the lockdown period and beyond. Also on the research front,  LifeWatch ERIC has submitted a project proposal to the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation to create dedicated epidemiology and data support services. These are expected to become available in the next few months, and will make it possible to implement a large set of scenario and model simulations to establish alternative trajectories of the spread of SARS-CoV-2; perform an extensive sensitivity analysis to understand the major sources of uncertainty associated with model projections; develop an on-line decision support system enabling to make queries about risks in specific locations and time periods; support the federation, provenance and accountability mechanisms associated with distributed (e-)Resources through Blockchain-based technologies.

Preventing future pandemics

Joint COVID-19 Task Force AnaEE is developing recommendations for management practices that will have a direct impact in the diversification of the production and the development of local systems. This will provide higher security in the food supply chains in situations where global transportation is shut down for safety reasons.  EMPHASIS is promoting long-term conservation of natural resources.  Discco is developing guidelines for the preservation of viral evidence in deposited biological specimens and samples.  Discco and CETAF together are developing a biodiversity-related knowledge hub on COVID-19.

There has been much talk in the media about the potential impact of the coronavirus-related lockdowns on our climate as well as whether environmental correlations with the virus exist. How big is the decrease in emissions and air pollution? And is there any long term significance in this decrease? These are the questions mostly for our Atmospheric Research Infrastructures. Read below about their activities to response to these questions.

 

Reduced urban emissions

✦ ICOS continues to provide data on greenhouse gases; there has been a lot of interest to it during the lockdown. ICOS has intensified its media and communications efforts in order to respond to the demand of information: A recent ICOS study shows a clear reduction in urban CO2 emissions as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns; a visible change, albeit very small when considering the entire atmosphere.   To better understand how ICOS contributes, watch the ICOS CO2ffee video. The video answers questions such as "To what extend could a temporary drop in CO2 emissions have a long-term effect on the global climate? Can we, after recovering from the COVID-19 crisis, ensure a green recovery, or is it more likely that we will just go back to ‘normal’?"

New Data sets

 ACTRIS will prepare specific, user-friendly data sets of the atmospheric observations for various user groups when the lockdown situation is over. These will be useful for further detailed studies and analysis of the environmental and societal impacts of COVID-19, and the closing down of several sectors of society, e.g. transport, industry, and services.  On top of the regular ACTRIS data collection, a COVID-19 NRT lidar measurement campaign was organized to answer, on behalf of its users, the question: “Can we quantify the impact of decreased emissions on the state of the atmosphere outside the urban areas, on a time-span of several weeks?”. As an active contributor to ACTRIS, EARLINET has intensifies its regular lidar measurements in order to provide a scientifically relevant answer. Results are published in weekly reports.  The German Aerospace Center DLR, a member of EUFAR, is conducting airborne observations to study the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and transport restrictions on atmospheric composition.  eLTER, in anticipation of long-term needs and unforeseen global changes, will utilize their network of socio-ecological research platforms (LTSER Platforms) and their teams to consider the characteristics of diverse geographic regions that will likely be important during the post-pandemic period recovery and adaptation to new social, economic and environmental realities. Furthermore – having the capacity and infrastructure to monitor short to long term impacts of the socio-economic impacts of policy responses to COVID-19 on water/soil/air quality, ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services – eLTER can answer crucial pandemic-related questions such as whether there will be a long term effect of this pandemic on securing food production and other life-supporting ecosystem services.

The pandemic followed up by the national lockdowns have posed a number of challenges for the delivery of environmental data and services. Many of our ground-based observing networks are either partly or fully automated and therefore they continued to operate. However missing repair, maintenance and supply work, and inability to travel have affected the operations. Moreover, a complete shutdown of the commercial passenger air traffic has been having a detrimental effect on data delivery from our aircraft based infrastructures.

 

Even automated systems depend on people

 Firstly, all Research Infrastructures have of course been forced to transition into virtual meetings.  Many observational platforms (e.g. ACTRIS) and measuring stations (e.g. ICOS) across Research Infrastructures are at least partly automated.  For ICOS, the maintenance is affected, as travelling to sites restricted. Ocean stations situation difficult as many research vessels are tied up in the harbours; access to Ships of Opportunity often difficult. Data processing at Central Facilities and Carbon Portal continues in home offices. Laboratories closed or working with severely reduced capacity.  
 In INTERACT, for example, operations in many stations is on hold to protect Arctic communities from the spread of the virus.  Many Eurofleets+ research vessels are currently not operating or operating at reduced capacity. However, most vessels are expected to be operational by mid-summer.  Data will be collated from each Research Vessel following easing of restrictions to assess the impact on operations.  This knowledge will be shared and used to develop protocols for future events.  Some scheduling issues for funded Transnational Access are foreseen, but measures are in place to minimise impact on planned research cruises.

Travel restrictions impact many projects

 A challenge for IAGOS has been that many aircraft are grounded or flying reduced schedules, and future operations are expected to be slowed until the aviation industry recovers (see also WMO on the same topic).  For EUFAR member organisations, many normal activities have had to be cancelled or postponed. In particular, some airborne observing campaigns planned from March onwards are postponed, which has a knock-on impact on campaigns that were being planned in 2021. Much of the work may eventually go ahead as originally planned except where it also required ground- or ship-borne facilities that were only in place this year. Lab-based activities including work on the development of new airborne instruments is also delayed.  Surprised by the rapid lockdowns, access to all EMBRC facilities is halted due to travel restrictions. No experiments are deployed and no biological resources are being collected. Shipping of organisms was not possible for a long time, and EMBRC will now be working to prepare a contingency plan for future lockdowns that will ensure shipping of organisms and maintenance of monitoring and observation efforts. Furthermore, EMBRC is looking into what services can be provided remotely and having more “mail-in” services, with users sending their samples.  SIOS responded to the lock-down situation with diverse initiatives: to keep international researchers up-to-date about the fast changing regulations concerning travel restrictions to Svalbard and the different research bases, a compilation of all relevant information resources has been made available on the SIOS web page; a logistics sharing notice board was launched as a platform to offer and request help with issues related to cancelled field activities during the lock-down; the SIOS remote sensing service offers to look into possibilities to patch up field data gaps with remote sensing techniques; and a monthly webinar mini-series was started in March to provide a social experience and keep the Svalbard research community engaged.

Resources

✦ ERF-AISBL

Research Infrastructures and COVID-19 Research

ERF-AISBL publishes a review on working practices of analytical facilities during COVID-19 pandemic

✦ ESFRI

RIs against COVID-19 pandemic

✦ European Commission

First “ERAvsCorona” action plan: short-term coordinated research and innovation actions

Statements

✦ eLTER

The role of environmental RIs in the context of the current COVID-19 crisis

✦ EUROCHAMP-2020

The research potential of the EUROCHAMP-2020 simulation chambers on the COVID-19 outbreak

✦ IAGOS

IAGOS Statement on Coronavirus

✦ LifeWatch ERIC

LifeWatch ERIC working on COVID-19 epidemiology and data support services

Updates from BEERi

 

BEERi is the Board of European Environmental Research Infrastructures. The board was established in the beginning of the ENVRIplus project in 2015 to work on common strategies, positions, policies, and participations. The board consists of directors or coordinators of the environmental Research Infrastructures, and aims at balance between the common implementation needs of the infrastructure cluster and the specific implementation needs of individual research infrastructures. At the moment, 26 environmental Research Infrastructures are members of the board. BEERi meets regularly, at least twice a year.

 

14th BEERi meeting 

At its latest meeting 19th May, 2020 BEERi discussed the ENVRI community response and involvement to different INFRAEOSC calls. It was agreed that ENVRI should better communicate its position and role towards EC. Key statements will be prepared so that we can clarify the role of the ENVRI community and have a say in the timing of the proposals.

BEERi is collecting the ENVRI input to Horizon Europe Missions to better communicate our potential contributions to different Mission statement. Contact Emmanuel Salmon for more information.

The present special newsletter issue was born a result of BEERi's request to share research infrastructure updates related to COVID-19. Having an idea of what different research infrastructures are doing in response to the epidemic, or what challenges related to the crisis they are facing, could help initiate a collaboration and sharing of the lessons learned.

The ENVRI community Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by four research infrastructures so far. BEERi discussed the way forward to ensure all the general assemblies will sign the memorandum.

ENVRI-FAIR updates

The newest deliverables submitted by ENVRI-FAIR

  • D1.4 1st Updated Data Management Plan
  • D5.1 Requirement analysis, technology review and gap analysis of environmental research infrastructures
  • D8.2 Recommended scientific end-to-end demonstration services
  • D8.3 Atmospheric subdomain implementation plan report
  • D9.3 RI technical specification report
  • D11.1 Biodiversity and ecosystem subdomain implementation short term plan

All the deliverables are accessible on the ENVRI-FAIR website.  All of them will will soon be accessible also from the ENVRI community space in Zenodo to ensure they are readily citable and FAIR.

Notes regarding recent deliverables

  • Deliverable 5.1 contains the FAIRness assessment of the ENVRIs, a must-read for all stakeholders!
  • Deliverables 8.3, 9.3 and 11.1 contain the implementation plans for the Atmosphere, Marne and Biodiversity & Ecosystems subdomains.

COVID-19 delay notice to the Commission

On 01 April, 2020 the Project Coordination requested the activation of Article 51 of the grant agreement “Force majeure” for the EU project ENVRI-FAIR, given the current COVID-19 situation.  We expect overall delays in the conduction of the ENVRI-FAIR work programme due to reduced staff availability and workforce because of longer-lasting home office conditions and child care responsibilities for our younger colleagues. As far as predictable from todays’ situation, we estimated the delays of tasks and deliverables due in year 2020 to our best knowledge as of the order of 3 months.

Other news and updates

The European Green Deal

In early 2020 EU launched a call with €1bn to respond to the urgency and ambitions of the EU Green Deal. The entire R&I community was engaged to help shape the call, and ENVRI community submitted a collective response. The general results of the survey are available here. Get further news on the topic by following the #EUGreenDeal hashtag on Twitter!

ESFRI White Paper

MAKING SCIENCE HAPPEN
A new ambition for Research Infrastructures in the European Research Area

From the executive summary:

"This document represents the outcomes of the reflection process over the last 15 months, engaging national authorities of EU Member States (MS) and Associated Countries (AC), the European Commission (EC) and the scientific community. ( . . . ) While further adjustments may still be needed, Europe now has effective mechanisms to identify potential new investment priorities and to develop any new facilities, which have already materialised in a comprehensive Research Infrastructures landscape. Nonetheless, the landscape needs optimisation to address the overall objectives of the new European Research Area. To this end, ESFRI aims to optimise the organisation of the Research Infrastructure landscape."

More info here. The full report can be accessed here.

People

New EuroGOOS Secretary General

The new Secretary General of EuroGOOS since May 2020 is Dr. Inga Lips. She is replacing Dr. Glenn Nolan who has been holding the position since 2015. Dr. Lips has 24-year experience in marine science managing national and international programmes and activities. Before joining EuroGOOS, Inga worked at the Tallinn University of Technology where she established and led the marine ecology lab and initiated several new study fields, among others on microplastics and plankton genomics. She also innovatively combined biological and physical oceanography, integrating traditional ship-based measurements and laboratory analysis with autonomous measuring and sampling platforms. Dr. Lips is the first woman at the head of the EuroGOOS office in its 26 years of history. More info here.

New EC Unit G3 (Industrial & Research Infrastructures) Director General

Mr. Johannes Klumpers is the new Director General of Unit G3 (Research and Industrial Infrastructures) of the European Commission's Research & Innovation department. Klumpers is replacing Adam Tyson who was filling the role in an acting capacity. An organisational chart over the can be found here. More info about the R&I department can be found here.


Open positions within the ENVRI community

  • LifeWatch ERIC Project Manager for ENVRI-FAIR Project, apply by 15/06/2020. Job description.
  • Communications Officer at EMSO ERIC, apply by 07/07/2020. Job description.

Events

Many events have been postponed or cancelled due to the ongoing epidemic, and it is still unclear whether events by eg. GEOICRI, or AGU will be reorganized physically or not. However, we will keep following the latest information and adjust out actions accordingly!

 

ENVRI Open Science Trek

ENVRI-FAIR organized a virtual campaign replacing the originally planned Townhall meeting at EGU 2020 discussing questions such as

"Who pays in an Open Science environment?",
"What does Open Science mean for your career?",
"What are the technological challenges of Open Science?",
and "What does the future holds for scientific data?"



Watch the videos we have recorded for the campaign:

Save the date: ENVRI Week 2021

February 1st – February 5th, 2021 Dresden, Germany.

Save the date! ENVRI week is a week dedicated to Environmental Research Infrastructures. During the runtime of the ENVRI-FAIR project it is organized once a year. ENVRI week hosts ENVRI-FAIR project related sessions as well as several other sessions targeting different groups of stakeholders.

The next ENVRI week will take place, as last year, at the Hotel Elbflorenz in Dresden. More information about the meeting will come later this year. Don't forget to follow the ENVR-FAIR website for live event updates!

9th EuroGOOS International Conference

October 14th – October15th, 2020 Brest, France.

Every three years, the conference provides a forum for a wide range of developers and users of operational oceanography services, such as marine scientists and technologists, companies, and policymakers. The conference analyses the current ocean monitoring and forecasting capacities and oceanographic services, identifying new scientific and technological priorities. The two days meeting will include plenary, splinter and poster sessions as well as round tables with focused discussions.

The themes of the conference are: Europe’s contribution to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development; In-situ and remote sensing observations: towards a European Ocean Observing System (EOOS) in the framework of the Ocean Decade; Ocean modelling and forecasting: extending and improving predictability; and Meeting end-user needs and supporting marine development. The deadline to submit an abstract is 31st May.

New dates for COP26

November 1st – November 12th, 2021 Glasgow, Scotland.

For the first time, the UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow. The climate talks are arranged in partnership with Italy, and will be the biggest international summit the UK has ever hosted; bringing together over 30,000 delegates including heads of state, climate experts and campaigners to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change. More info here.

Webinar on Blue-Cloud Demonstrators: helping translate marine research into innovation for the blue economy

June 19th, 2020 11:00 AM CEST

The use of Big Data technologies will pave the way for new solutions. Blue-Cloud is compiling and processing several data resources currently available under different European marine networks, data centers, and research infrastructures, applying big data analysis and machine learning methods in order to obtain FAIR data products (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable). However, Blue-Cloud doesn't simply focus on data storage, discovery and access services, but also on developing and providing analytical frameworks with Virtual Research Environments (VREs) for setting up and running analytical processes by and for users to support their research.

The Blue-Cloud selected five dedicated Demonstrators as Virtual Labs co-designed with top-level marine researchers, to showcase how the Blue Cloud can shorten the time span between research and innovation in the blue economy field. Each service (Virtual Lab) will provide access to datasets, products, and computations routine exploitable to analyse datasets and (re)generate products. This is at core of the open science that is a pillar of the Blue Cloud platform. Each demonstrator is developed in close cooperation between the Blue Cloud technical team and with researchers in order to describe the required analytical workflows and to use these for designing the Virtual Labs. Read more here.

Save the date!

  • POSTPONED! LifeWatch ERIC Biodiversity & Ecology e-Science Conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia, originally planned for May 27–29 2020. More info.
  • ICOS Science Conference. Knowledge for shaping the future – understanding our earth's biogeochemical processes. Sept 15–17, 2020 in Utrecht, Netherlands. More info.
  • RI-VIS Latin America - Europe Symposium. Nov 9–14, 2020. More info (RI-VIS website).
  • Big Science Business Forum 2020. Oct 6–9, 2020 in Granada, Spain. More info.
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