The Earth System and the society are facing many global environmental challenges that deserve to be called “grand”: climate change, loss of biodiversity, global extraction of natural resources or air quality are just a few examples.

These challenges are very interlinked in the Earth system.  We can only understand, predict and possibly minimize their impact if we understand the system where they originate from. This is not possible without environmental research and its supporting global-scale data delivery with analyses from observations, experiments, and modeling.

Each research infrastructure has its own set of science questions, and there is no single research infrastructure that can provide information and data on all aspects of the Earth System.  As long as the research infrastructures remain in their respective scientific or Earth System domains, their services and products cannot directly answer many of the most pressing problems of the society and the environment. Collaboration, integration, co-operation and interoperability (in terms of data and technical solutions) are needed to cross the boundaries and to tackle such complex challenges.

The ENVRI community brings together players from all the domains of the Earth system to work and to face challenges together.

Common challenges in the ENVRI community

Most infrastructures serve (or intend to serve) a broad community of researchers by providing core data and derived data products, and physical, virtual, and/or data access and computational services.

The design of each research infrastructure service provision has originally been based on RIs main science community’s; however each research infrastructure is also providing its data and services to wider user communities and thus contributing to the wider, trans- and interdisciplinary science questions and grand environmental challenges regardless of its particular field of interest.  Because of this broad accessibility across disciplines and user groups, many RIs early and/or key discoveries were not necessarily ones that were planned or made by design.

There are many common issues that most of the research infrastructures share, for example, the collection, preservation, quality control, integration and availability of data, as well as providing the computational capability to perform the analyses of interest to researchers (or vice versa). Moreover, whilst each research infrastructure is separately concerned with the integration of data within its own domain of interest, it is also imperative to find robust yet lightweight means to integrate data and computation across research infrastructures and domains to serve an increasingly multidisciplinary scientific community.