In deteriorating weather (again), the last CTD’s of the cruise were cancelled and the ship left the northeast station before midnight on Monday, heading for home at full speed. Packing is underway, since every last piece of equipment must be ready to be moved off the ship as soon as we dock. Attention is also turning to another extremely important aspect of the cruise, which is to document our activities.
Without going into details, it costs a lot of money to send 31 scientists to sea, together with the supporting infrastructure they need. I don’t think anyone has ever worked it out, but it makes every piece of data we collect during our time at sea very valuable. It is important that the data are seen as a resource for NERC.
Also, with increasing concerns over changes in climate, diminishing biodiversity, and man made impacts on the environment, it is becoming more important than ever before to ensure that the data we collect is comparable with, and available to make comparisons to other data sets.
In order to do this, we need to record exactly what went on during the cruise and what we got out of it. The first step in this process is to complete the cruise report. Every individual contributes to this in some way. It will include a narrative of all our scientific activities, expound the problems we encountered, explain why we did what we did and document what we achieved. Then there will be a report on each individual activity; mooring deployments, megacores, midwater trawls, CTD profiles, primary productivity, bottom trawls, lander deployments, shrimp tows, bathymetric surveys and so on. If you have been reading our blog, you will know just how complex our operation has been, as it has covered a multitude of different disciplines. Each of these must be accurately documented.
We will include tables of stations, plots of data, calibration equations, maps and charts, diagrams of equipment, pictures and photographs and anything else we consider pertinent. The whole will be edited together, published and circulated to the participants, interested individuals, oceanographic libraries and relevant data centres. It will form an essential “metadata” set for posterity.
However, this is just the first step along the way. Once home, one of the most important things we will have to do is bank, or archive, our data with the relevant data centre. If any of us get run over by a bus, or our computer blows up, it means that there is another copy of our data somewhere for others to use. Most of the data will go to NERC’s British Oceanographic Data Centre in Liverpool. However, the survey took place under the auspices of the Census of Marine Life, so data will also be passed into their database. In order to archive the data, and ensure its compatibility with similar data sets, further metadata will be required. Each piece of information must have associated with it basics such as the time collected, the location (latitude and longitude) where it was collected, any calibration information and so on. Much of these data should be passed on within the next 6 months, although it frequently takes much longer than this to assemble everything. Two years is not unusual, but we hope that we will be publishing some of our results long before then
NOC Southampton, UK