Data management, tools and systems for science excellence and impact

Windermere view north to Lake District

Understanding today’s environmental challenges requires the marshalling of world-wide information and data. Scientific, commercial and societal objectives depend on high quality data and analysis tools. CEH has decades of experience in collection, analysis and dissemination of environmental information. We possess unique long-term, large-scale datasets that describe the state of the environment and, together with modelling expertise, help to predict the future. CEH’s Environmental Information Data Centre (EIDC) works with the terrestrial and freshwater sciences community to ensure these datasets are secure and accessible. Alongside our data management role, we are continually advancing our informatics capabilities to address major societal and environmental issues.

Our research

Environmental Informatics Science Area Summary cover

CEH’s standing as a world-class research centre requires world-class environmental information services. Such services support integrated analysis and assessment of environmental issues through access to high quality data and informatics tools. CEH has developed discipline-leading data management capabilities through its Environmental Information Data Centre (EIDC). Building on this, Environmental Informatics activities will underpin CEH’s science excellence and impact by increasing capability to exploit available information and data.

Innovative ways to realise the potential of CEH-held data will be delivered through:

  • producing a web-based Land Water Information System linking a range of spatial and time-series data with modelling and visualisation tools.
  • aligning CEH’s flagship data holdings (e.g. Biological Records Centre, Environmental Change Network, National River Flow Archive to provide a unified research resource.
  • integrating a range of environmental data to produce 1km maps of natural capital at national and regional scales.
  • promoting service-oriented approaches in the development and dissemination of CEH’s data, tools and services.
  • applying web-based workflows to provide repeatable application of data, models and analytical tools on-demand.
  • exploiting Big Data opportunities using cloud and high performance computing.
  • leading environmental informatics internationally through our ontology and Linked Open Data work.
  • supporting the NERC Environmental ‘Omics Synthesis Centre and NERC Environmental Bioinformatics Centre (NEBC).
  • exploiting mobile technologies to further citizen science in creation, dissemination and evaluation of environmental information.
  • promoting best practice in data management across the terrestrial and freshwater sector.

Future research objectives

Making data accessible, understandable and exploitable

By 2019, we will:

  • enable the safeguarding, citation and sharing of data to emerging journal and Open Data Initiative standards.
  • deliver a new web-based software tool to enable natural capital maps to be generated on-demand through statistical analysis of site-based and national datasets.
  • produce a Land Water Information System to deliver a wide range of data linked to analysis and visualisation tools.

Deriving valuable information and knowledge from available data

By 2019, we will:

  • deliver cloud-based web tools to enable users to determine the best predictions by assessing the uncertainty estimates from different analytical workflow runs.
  • provide interoperable long-term monitoring data and analysis tools that will facilitate questions such as, “Show me all locations where Dissolved Organic Carbon levels have increased by 5% since 2003.”

Bringing together measurements and observation across datasets and locations 

By 2019, we will:

EIDC Roadshow Photo: Heather Lowther Record Cards

  • deliver web tools to provide access to field measurements and observations in international standard formats.
  • develop new controlled vocabularies, data dictionaries and thesauri to support the description of data generated by the new Science Areas (e.g. Soils, Natural Capital).
  • produce web tools and mobile apps, to enable creation, access and updates to data in the field, and the automatic capture of invaluable metadata at the point of data collection.
  • use common dictionaries and data formats to present major monitoring data as a unified resource, enabling questions such as “show me data in this catchment with measurements relevant to Dissolved Organic Carbon”.


Environmental Informatics activities will involve CEH staff from all disciplines and will underpin developments in all Science Areas. We will ensure alignment with similar initiatives elsewhere in CEH, NERC and Research Councils UK, the HEI sector and JISC. We will work with government departments, agencies and devolved administrations across the UK, and will build links with the third sector. Much of our work will be conducted with organisations overseas (e.g. Partnership for European Environmental Research, the US Geological Survey, and CSIRO in Australia), relevant EU and UN agencies, international programmes (e.g. Global Earth Observation System of Systems, CopernicusBelmont Forum), and international standards organisations. We also see opportunity to derive greater impact from our data and informatics capabilities through the development of strategic alliances with key businesses (e.g. ESRI, Microsoft Research) and via the Environmental Science to Services Partnership

Environmental Information Data Centre

The Environmental Information Data Centre (EIDC) is the NERC Data Centre for the Terrestrial and Freshwater Sciences.

You can deposit datasets with the EIDC so they are secure, accessible and citable.

  • We can help you document and format your data so it can be made secure for future re-use.
  • We can issue DOIs for datasets so your data can be cited.
  • We can share your data through many portals to maximise its impact.

You can access, view and download datasets from the CEH Environmental Information Platform.

Contact us

For general enquiries, please see our Contacts page.

Head of Environmental Informatics

Business Development Manager

Science Coordinator

John Watkins

Dr John Watkins

Dr Colin Mackechnie

Colin Mackechnie Photo: Heather Lowther

Dr Anita Weatherby

Anita Weatherby

Tel: +44 (0)1524 595827
Tel: +44 (0)1491 838800
Tel: +44 (0)1491 838800

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