How AERIS was born

Fourteen years after the report of the working group led by Philippe Waldteufel on geoscience databases, leading to the creation of the first Thematic Data Centres, a focus group mandated by CNES and CNRS/INSU worked from January 2012 to October 2013 to formulate recommendations on how these centres should evolve. This entailed talking to various stakeholders and organizations, reviewing the status of databases in France and looking at ways of working in other countries.

The group’s main recommendations were to:

• Establish four national Data and Services Centres in the four main Earth-observation disciplines: solid Earth, oceans, land surfaces and atmosphere

• Build a strong technical and organizational structure linking these centres

• Provide scientific expertise at these centres to validate data, assure quality of data processing and interface with users

• Serve research communities while maintaining links between research and operational applications

• Set out a strategy for the European integration of these centres

• Leverage the centres for training and outreach

End 2014, the AERIS Data and Services Centre was formed on the strength of these recommendations, backed by an agreement signed by 11 national organizations to federate existing structures to manage and process atmosphere data. The main goal of this new entity was to offer one-stop access to atmosphere science data.

Existing structures

  • SATMOS, a consortium created in 1985 under an agreement between national weather service Meteo France, CNES and CNRS to compile and provide access to an archive of weather satellite data and derived products.

Following the Waldteufel report on geoscience databases in 1999, CNES and INSU set up two atmosphere Data Centres:

  • The ICARE joint service unit, an atmospheric physics—aerosols, clouds, etc.—Data Centre with a strong focus on management and operational processing of space mission data, in 2003 under an agreement between the University of Lille, CNES and CNRS.
  • Ether, an atmospheric chemistry data centre, in 2000 under an agreement between CNES and CNRS, with an initial component at IPSL/Jussieu and a second in 2011 at the Midi-Pyrenees Observatory (OMP) in Toulouse.

Extensive databases from campaigns and observation services also existed:

  • at SEDOO, the data service at OMP in Toulouse
  • in the ClimServ environment at IPSL
Existing structuresAERISWhere
SATMOS        SATMOSLannion Space Weather Centre
ICARE  ICAREUniversity of Lille
Ether IPSL + ClimServ  ESPRI/AERISSorbonne University – Jussieu
Ether OMP + SEDOO    SEDOO/AERISOMP – Toulouse

Creation of Data Terra

From 2016, under the impetus of the Ministry of Research, the organizations involved in the four Data and Services Centres already up and running or in the process of being created—THEIA (land surfaces), AERIS (atmosphere), ODATIS (oceans) and ForM@Ter (solid Earth)—worked to establish an interdisciplinary structure aimed at coordinating their activities.

This project was included in the future national roadmap for research infrastructures and a joint service unit (CNRS/INSU, CNES, Meteo France, INRAE, IGN, IFREMER, IRD) was formed in January 2019 under the name Data Terra.

The main aim of this initiative was to federate the four data centres within a single research infrastructure and boost uptake of space, aerial, ground and in-situ Earth system data, including by lay users.