Public Release: 

A portal for Earth science data exploration

National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)

Durham, NC -- As the earth and environmental sciences evolve to be more data-intensive, discovering, integrating and analyzing massive amounts of heterogeneous information becomes critical to enable researchers to address complex questions about our environment and our role within it. DataONE, the Data Observation Network for Earth, today released technology capable of providing researchers access to globally distributed, networked data from a single point of discovery.

The increasing volume of environmental and Earth science data, from historic observational field notes to recent remotely sensed data, is challenging scientists to locate and integrate pertinent data in a manner that addresses important questions for science and society. For example: How is the spread of invasive species affected by patterns of land use? What factors predict the distribution of emergent infectious diseases, and what are the associated health risks? Are climate models sufficiently predictive? DataONE addresses this need by providing a single search interface that queries data repositories distributed globally. These data centers individually store and manage digital scientific data holdings and DataONE now enables scientists around the world to easily discover data wherever the data reside, and to preserve their data for the long-term. Research enabled by this widespread access to data will range from studies that illuminate fundamental environmental processes to identifying environmental problems and potential solutions.

Duke University, through the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) has partnered with DataONE since it was funded by the National Science Foundation in 2009 as one of the first DataNets. NESCent brings its experience with the Dryad Digital Repository, a major archive of data associated with research articles in the biosciences and biomedicine, to the collaboration. "Data-driven science is anticipated to grow hugely in importance in the coming decades, but there are numerous cultural and technical hurdles that need to be overcome before we can plug the data from individual researchers into the rest of the world of Big Data. DataONE is taking a leadership role in addressing those hurdles," says Todd Vision, the Associate Director for Informatics at NESCent.

Data held by Dryad, South Africa National Parks, the Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity, the Ecological Society of America, Oak Ridge National Laboratories Distributed Active Archive Center, the United States Geological Survey, the Long Term Ecological Research Network, the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans and the California Digital Library are currently searchable within DataONE. In the coming months more organizations are joining as members to make their data accessible.

"Right now researchers have a hard time even finding the right data to answer complex environmental questions, and when they do, the work necessary to integrate really different types of data can be overwhelming," says NCEAS Deputy Director Stephanie Hampton, "DataONE provides the type of platform we need, to propel environmental science into the digital age."

DataONE enables universal access to data and also facilitates researchers in fulfilling their need for data management and in providing secure and permanent access to their data. These needs are filled by offering the scientific community a suite of tools and training materials that cover all aspects of the data life cycle from data collection, to management, to analysis and publication.

DataONE is a community-driven organization and the DataONE Users Group provides the opportunity for funders, users, developers, educators or any other stakeholders to gather and contribute to DataONE products and services. DataONE includes experts from library, computer, and environmental sciences explicitly to bridge these worlds and to provide an infrastructure to serve science for many decades to come.


About DataONE: DataONE is the foundation of new innovative environmental science through a distributed framework and sustainable cyberinfrastructure that meets the needs of science and society for open, persistent, robust, and secure access to well-described and easily discovered Earth observational data. Supported by a $20 million award made as part of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) DataNet program (Grant #OCI-0830944), DataONE represents a collaboration of universities and government agencies coalesced to address the mounting need for organizing and serving up vast amounts of highly diverse and inter-related but often heterogeneous, scientific data.

The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) is a nonprofit science center dedicated to cross-disciplinary research in evolution. Funded by the National Science Foundation, NESCent is jointly operated by Duke University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University. For more information about research and training opportunities at NESCent, visit

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