Science Datasets from GoMRI Oil Spill Research Publicly Available

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GRIIDC team members Lauren Showalter, William Nichols, S. Ellis, and David Reed at their booth at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystems Science conference in Mobile, Alabama this past January. (Photo provided by GRIIDC)

(Click to enlarge) GRIIDC team members Lauren Showalter, William Nichols, S. Ellis, and David Reed at their booth at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystems Science conference in Mobile, Alabama this past January. (Photo provided by GRIIDC)

Researchers studying impacts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have scientific data available for public access. Data comes from research funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) and is accessible through the GoMRI Information and Data Cooperative (GRIIDC) data repository.

The mission of GRIIDC is to ensure a data and information legacy that promotes continual scientific discovery and public awareness of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. To do so, the network of researchers, data specialists, and computer system developers who comprise GRIIDC have built a data repository and are working with national data archive centers to populate it with data produced by GoMRI researchers.

The GRIIDC data repository is unique in its focus on the 2010 Gulf oil spill and in the range of disciplines included in its datasets: ecological, biological, chemical, physical oceanography, atmospheric, human health, social, cultural, political, economic and cross-disciplinary. Data available have been generated using diverse methods including remote sensing activities, oceanographic and atmospheric observing stations, gliders or AUVs, research vessels including submersibles, field research, laboratory experiments and analyses, and mathematical computer modeling. The site includes an interactive map that allows users to find data based on a geographic area of collection and research focus.

GoMRI-funded researchers make their data available as soon as possible, with some releasing data very soon after collection, usually before results are published in peer-reviewed journals. The GRIIDC data repository also fills an archiving need for data that has no national repository center, including multidisciplinary data. As such, the GRIIDC data repository is the go-to place for data discovery from GoMRI research related to the oil spill.

To encourage data sharing, not only among GoMRI-funded scientists but to all scientists and researchers interested in Gulf of Mexico data, GRIIDC staff attend conferences, meetings and workshops across region such as the recent Gulf of Mexico Summit and more locally such as the Texas Water Development Board.

“Sharing data early in the process is a shift in thinking for many researchers, but it helps the research community in many ways,” notes Dr. Jim Gibeaut, Director of GRIIDC and Endowed Chair for Geospatial Sciences at the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. Gibeaut further explains that by engaging in active discussions with researchers “GRIIDC is helping to dispel common misconceptions and lessen researcher’s hesitations regarding data sharing.”

Benefits of sharing include preservation of data, verification of results, and promotion of new research when existing datasets are combined in new and innovative ways. These available data can help build solutions to solve real world challenges and can benefit educational programs.

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This research was made possible by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). The GoMRI is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies. An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research. All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available. The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP. For more information, visit http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/.

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