Exploring Greenland’s coastal depths with EarthServer’s data fusion

Exploring Greenland’s coastal depths with EarthServer’s data fusion

In mid-April, the research vessel Sanna explored Greenland’s coastal underwater landscape while connected to the EarthServer datacube federation. Federation members worldwide were able to use real-time bathymetry data, and onboard the federation holdings – satellite, weather, bedrock and more datacubes – were readily available to the scientists for analysis while still onboard.

The RV Sanna is a state-of-the-art research vessel operated by the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources (GINR). In a demonstration conducted jointly by GINR and Constructor University as part of NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) project Cube4EnvSec, Sanna exemplified seamless interconnected services, including on-the-fly data homogenization and intercontinental distributed data fusion, all fully automated. Cube4EnvSec aims to showcase the added value of federated, AI-enabled datacube services for planetary-scale joint utilization of Big Ear.

“We routinely harvest from worldwide data sources into datacubes – you wouldn’t believe how heterogeneous their data are, and how much the mileage of metadata completeness and conformance varies,” explains Prof. Peter Baumann, coordinator of Cube4EnvSec. “The main task of our Rasdaman datacube engine is to push all technicalities behind the curtain and provide support, such as with AI-Cube chatbots, so that experts gain productivity and non-experts gain access for the first time.”

Combining maritime and environmental data

The seas and fjords around Greenland and neighbouring countries are of vital economic and ecological importance. “Fishing for shrimp and Greenland halibut is Greenland’s dominant industry, and the submarine slopes and canyons are hotspots for marine biodiversity, some of which is fragile.” The integration of highly dynamic marine data into high-performance maritime data services remains a challenge. For powerful support of mariners during navigation in general, this maritime data needs to be combined with environmental data such as seafloor properties, water temperature, currents, waves and ice conditions. For scientific and fishery purposes, further relevant parameters such as plankton blooms and sea surface temperature need to be integrated in their most up-to-date version from various sources.

In Cube4EnvSec, participants including Constructor University, Tel Aviv University, GINR and Istanbul Aydin University are collaborating to build a datacube federation encompassing 3D x/y/t and 4D x/y/z/t datacubes derived from forecast, nowcast and historical data automatically updated from various sources. These datacubes encompass radar and optical satellite data, along with derived products for environmental monitoring and aviation safety (such as wind, clouds and volcanic ash), as well as consolidated observations on global lightning occurrences, among others. This federation is integrated with EarthServer and EO-Cube, along with the IEEE GRSS Earth datacube service in the US.

Slope, aspect and ruggedness

GINR is partnering with the international network of the Arctic Pilot, where further datacubes are planned to be added soon. “Specifically for Greenland, it is important to have terrain characteristics such as slope, aspect and ruggedness ready for mix and match with a variety of other data,” said Karl Zinglersen, head of the environment department at GINR.

The RV Sanna operates in the fjords and offshore waters of East Greenland in the Denmark Strait. “Marine scientists onboard are investigating blue carbon flux properties of the ocean and biomass health and ocean pollution to assess impacts from climate change and the industrial environment.” Their sampling relies on supporting information obtained from satellites, in situ data, AI models and spatio-temporal analytical capabilities, which in the future can be offered in a standards-compliant way through the Rasdaman datacube services.

The Sanna research vessel is conducting an exploration of Greenland's coastal underwater terrain. (Image source: Rasdaman)
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