The ambition of ENVRI-FAIR is to establish technical preconditions for the successful implementation of a virtual, federated machine-to-machine interface. This interface is called the ENVRI-hub, and it will enable access to environmental data and services provided by the contributing ENVRIs.
Full integration of services across Research Infrastructures (and their subdomains) is continuously progressing at ENVRIs, with a focus on environmental data and scientific research objectives. Each Research Infrastructure is specialised within parameters related to its specific competences. For users that require broader information, or the full spectrum of environmental parameters, the ENVRI-hub will offer a platform which reflects the complexity and diversity of the ENVRI landscape, while preserving individual Research Infrastructure structures and addressing the requirements they were designed for.
The ENVRIs contributing to ENVRI-FAIR have developed in-depth expertise within their different fields of environmental research. However integration of research activities across the parameters of applied scientific approaches is still developing. The greatest uncertainties informing our current knowledge of climate change and its related impact on the Earth system are associated with the complex feedback mechanisms in the climate system, and respective ecosystem and ocean responses to change. To study these complex interactions requires making use of data from multiple disciplinary fields in a straightforward way, where FAIRness of digital metadata and data is an absolute prerequisite.
Therefore the concept of an ENVRI-hub sets a highly ambitious goal. The ENVRI-hub will be a federated system of harmonized subdomain/RI-specific systems of data policies and management, access platforms, and virtual research environments. The system will be completely open source, modular and scalable, and will build on the experience available in the consortium and existing operational systems. ENVRI-FAIR will provide further context to develop the ENVRIs’ architecture during the coming years on the „RDA Data Fabric“ vision.
Several Research Infrastructures and institutes involved in ENVRI-FAIR have developed systems that contain elements of this vision. Two examples are the ICOS Carbon Portal and the TOAR surface observation portal at FZJ.
The ENVRI-hub community metadata and data store will be based on semantic web technology, ontologies and open linked data, allowing integration of the vocabularies and metadata standards developed in the implementation Work Packages of ENVRI-FAIR. The cross-subdomain development will create significant benefits through the efficient and robust nature of the ENVRI hub system. It will support true interoperability of access to metadata and data objects across the Research Infrastructures and subdomains, and thus facilitate the development of (joint) higher-level services. By following a strict modular design the developments can be (re-)used in the different Research Infrastructures.