Building the European Open Science platform for marine research: insights from Blue-Cloud2026 General Assembly

Building the European Open Science platform for marine research: insights from Blue-Cloud2026 General Assembly

27 Dec 2023

Data collection, analysis & application are key enablers for Ocean data innovation. Integration is needed, open science is one of those transformative changes that the ocean needs. With input by  EMODnet, Copernicus Marine and several leading marine Research Infrastructures (EurOBIS, Euro-Argo, ELIXIR-ENA, SOCAT, EcoTaxa, ICOS-Ocean, EMSO, SIOS, and ELIXIR-MGnify), the Horizon Europe Blue-Cloud initiative started its journey in 2019 under the coordination of Trust-IT with the aim to create a European Open Science Cloud for marine data by federating data and e-infrastructures and making data products and technologies available as open science resources for the broad marine research community. Since 2023, the Blue-Cloud 2026 follow-up project aims at a further evolution of this pilot ecosystem into a Federated European Ecosystem to deliver FAIR & Open data and analytical services, instrumental for deepening research of oceans, EU seas, coastal & inland waters. 

From 7 to 9 November 2023 the 70+ representatives of the Blue-Cloud 2026 team gathered in Rome (Italy) for its 2nd General Assembly (GA) meeting, an opportunity for the consortium to discuss the work performed in the first year of the project and the upcoming activities.

After a first day of working meetings on the 7th, the plenary meeting started on the 8th and was opened by Sara Pittonet Gaiarin, Trust-IT Services, Pasquale Pagano, CNR-ISTI, and Dick Schaap, MARIS, Project coordinator, Scientific coordinator and Technical coordinators of the project respectively.

Image: Blue-Cloud2026 consortium at the General Assembly, 7-9 November 2023, Rome, Italy


Blue-Cloud Open Science Platform serving EOSC and the European digital ocean twin initiatives

The current Blue-Cloud technical framework is extensible and open by design, constantly evolving according to the needs of the community, facilitating collaborative research and the uptake of Open Science principles, through a distinguished set of marine data services. The status of development of those services was at the core of different sessions during the General Assembly.

Blue-Cloud is well positioned in the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC)  ecosystem and it is considered the thematic EOSC for the marine domain. The Blue-Cloud Service platform features a variety of services that can be used for undertaking world-class science via the European Open Science Cloud ecosystem and therefore it is important to make the Blue-Cloud products and services accessible also from the EOSC Marketplace, where 16 services are already published.

Given the scope of Blue-Cloud, the project is strictly connected also to the Digital Twin of the Ocean programme of the European Commission. The Blue-Cloud outputs provide data and data service assets that are essential for European twins and inclusion of European marine environments into global twins. Work completed under Blue-Cloud on harmonisation of data discovery and retrieval services across its infrastructures bring key data sets to direct availability for the data lake of the European DTO and to feed European data sets into the global DITTO initiative. Ongoing work on improving data services, for example in the molecular biology area domain, will serve to add appropriate metadata structures, for discovery into global ocean twins. Provision by Blue-Cloud of input data into digital ocean twins will give continuity to the work of data gathering and harmonisation, while offering immediate value to stakeholders in the digital twin initiatives.

Furthermore, the different demonstration projects and VREs created in Blue-Cloud, will be offered to the EU DTO - via the collaboration with the EDITO Infra and EDITO Model Lab projects - and its international dimension (DITTO) to be hosted locally to illustrate focused usage of each of the twins and to sustain important expert work ongoing by Blue-Cloud's demonstrator communities. 

Outreach, training and synergies

Under the leadership of Trust-IT, Blue-Cloud2026 introduced a training academy, a novelty of the second phase of Blue-Cloud which aims to develop lessons and materials that guide people in utilising the Blue-Cloud services, in collaboration with IEEE, EuroGOOS, IODE, and OTGA from UNESCO. The training academy endeavours to create a collaborative platform for researchers and scholars through a series of webinars, workshops, and training sessions.

The GA also offered the opportunity to discuss the synergies programme and the concrete actions that it is bringing forward with other data infrastructure and EU funded projects such as AquaINFRA (Blue-Cloud sister project), or FAIR-EASE, and the opportunities of creating synergies outside Europe, thanks to the support of UNESCO, IODE or JAMSTEC.

Our role

The Blue-Cloud 2026 project is funded by the Horizon Europe programme under the Grant Agreement Grant agreement N. 101094227. Blue-Cloud 2026 is co-coordinated by CNR,- ISTI Pasquale Pagano, Administrative and Scientific Coordinator, Trust-IT Services Sara Pittonet Gaiarin, Project Coordinator, & MARIS Dick Schaap, Technical Coordinator. Overall it mobilises a solid, multidisciplinary, committed team of 40 partners from 13 EU countries. 

Trust-IT also leads the activities on “Communication, Stakeholders Engagement & Uptake of Blue-Cloud VRE & services” and ensures consistent and content-rich communication and dissemination of Blue-Cloud results to its relevant stakeholders, by using multiple integrated communication tools, for the roll-out of the Blue-Cloud services and demonstrate impact in the Blue Economy and the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). 

A range of publications and key documents can be found on the official Blue-Cloud Zenodo community.

Publication date: 27 Dec 2023

Article by

Sara Pittonet Gaiarin

Senior Project Manager