Natural and anthropogenic factors lead to environmental changes on a scale ranging from local to global. Understanding and quantifying these changes is a necessary requirement for the development of mitigation and adaptation options, and importantly for fact-based decision making.

Reliable predictions of environmental change must be based on trustworthy, well-documented observations which capture the entire complexity of the Earth system and the manifold interactions between the atmosphere, the land and the ocean; encompassing impacts both from and onto life in all its forms.

Environmental data provides a scientific basis for analysing the physical, biological, and economic processes in the Earth system which affect all sectors of society, in addition to wildlife and biodiversity. Easy and fast access to reliable, high quality environmental data is fundamental for research, and for the development of environmental prediction and assessment services. It’s also key to assessing past policies and defining future policies, thereby underpinning the development of environment-friendly innovations.

The demand for Earth system observation data is rapidly increasing, but the tools to manage, document, provide, find, access, and use such data are still underdeveloped owing to a combination of data complexity and data volumes.

Research Infrastructures (RI) of the Environment Domain as defined by ESFRI cover the main four subdomains of the complex Earth system (Atmosphere, Marine, Solid Earth, and Biodiversity/Terrestrial Ecosystems), thus forming the cluster of European Environmental and Earth System Research Infrastructures (ENVRIs). ENVRIs are crucial pillars for environmental scientists in their quest to understand and interpret the complex Earth System. They are the most comprehensive producers and providers of environmental research data in Europe collected from the in-situ and space-based observing systems. ENVRIs often contribute to global observation systems and they generate relevant information for Europe and worldwide.

RI facilities were developed to respond to the needs of specific research communities, acknowledging the individual requirements and methods of specific disciplines. However, the necessity of interdisciplinary cooperation has been evident for decades.

Therefore, the ENVRI community has increasingly cooperated within the cluster projects of ENVRI (2011-2014, FP7), which paved the way for the ENVRIplus project (2015-2019, H2020). ENVRIplus gathered all subdomains of the Earth system science field to work together. This fulfils a dual purpose – to capitalize on progress made in the various disciplines, and to strengthen interoperability amongst Research Infrastructures and subdomains.

The evolution from the first ENVRI project to ENVRI-FAIR

The overarching goal of ENVRI-FAIR is to implement the FAIR principles in the ENVRI community and connect it to the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). Common policies, open standards, interoperability solutions, operational services, and stewardship of data on the basis of FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Re-usable) principles require a common approach. The final aim is to provide an open access platform for interdisciplinary environmental research data in the European Research Area utilising the EOSC.

Specifically, ENVRI-FAIR will work on

  1. Common data policies for further development of the common standards and policies for data life cycle, cataloguing, curation, provenance and service provision within Environmental Research Infrastructures;
  2. Open science in for an adoption of an open approach to sharing data and software;
  3. Capacity building for improved skills of the Research Infrastructure personnel so they can develop and maintain the FAIR infrastructures;
  4. Innovation potential for Increased potential for innovation of each Research Infrastructure by establishing a specific ENVRI-FAIR service catalogue section in the EOSC catalogue;
  5. Global cooperation for a cohesive global Research Infrastructure landscape, including other Research Infrastructure clusters, regional and international initiatives in the environmental sector;
  6. expose thematic data services and tools from the RI catalogues to the EOSC catalogue of services,COPERNICUS, GEO and other end-users.