'Station 4, Fylla section, Greenland Shelf' reads an illuminated orange speck on the map off the southwest coast of Greenland. Zooming out over the Davis Strait, the Labrador Sea, and eventually the North Atlantic Ocean reveals a constellation of these dots spanning from the European shoreline to the United States and north to Svalbard, each one representing either a hydrographic station or section at which valuable oceanic and climatic data are recorded.
These dots are part of a new data application set up by the ICES data centre team to coincide with the impending publication of ICES annual Report on Ocean Climate (IROC). Featuring clearly-presented graphs and the option to download results alongside the clickable map, the page allows those interested in oceanic temperature or salinity to explore the aggregated data at each of 57 points across the ICES area, providing a porthole to the statistics that form the bedrock of the IROC.
"The idea is now that we are moving into a new age and the IROC is following," said ICES Oceanography Data Scientist and webpage developer Hjalte Parner. "The report has come out every year for the last ten years, and this is the first time the data has been online. Right now you're able to see all the stations behind the report and the monthly or annual plot. Sometimes also the time-series, which is all measurements carried out."
Expansion of the climate report into online territory also signifies an extension of the work undertaken by ICES scientists and working groups, notably the Working Group on Oceanic Hydrography (WGOH), which closely monitors conditions in the ICES region and whose yearly meetings are used to consolidate findings on oceanic and atmospheric conditions prior to their publication in the IROC.
According to Parner, the easy-to-use programme will have wide-ranging appeal and functionality, especially where future ICES work is concerned. "The page could be used by people interested in climate change, by scientists, or the general public checking the water temperature. In ICES users might be working groups, particularly ecosystem groups. Our strategy is to give ecosystem-based advice in the future – and this is the start of that."
"One of the key reasons that the WGOH continue to pull together the IROC is to bring the latest time-series data to the attention of the scientists and decision makers that can use it," added WGOH Co-Chair Stephen Dye. "The team at ICES have done great job making the data easily interactive on a great looking website so that the IROC is even more useful and importantly the data is traceable and citable back to its source."
The simultaneous release of the IROC publication and website also points to a move by ICES towards operational products and further transparency, with the linkage of evidence (in this case data) to products (such as annual and assessment reports, including the IROC) being key to a credible scientific process were results can be reproduced by end users using the same means provided by the process.
You can read the ICES Report on Ocean Climate as well as surf the IROC webpage data yourself by using the links on the right-hand side of the page.