Improving FAIRness of aerogeophysics datasets at the UK Polar Data Centre
The UK Polar Data Centre (PDC, https://www.bas.ac.uk/data/uk-pdc/) is the focal point for Arctic and Antarctic environmental data management in the UK. Part of the Natural Environmental Research Council’s (NERC) network of environmental data centres and based at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the PDC coordinates the management of polar data from UK-funded research and supports researchers in complying with national and international data legislation and policy. Reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of polar science, the datasets handled by the data centre are extremely diverse. Aerogeophysics data, including aeromagnetics, aerogravity and radar echo-sounding data, are a key asset to the geoscience and glaciology community as they provide crucial information about the Earth’s geological structure and ice thickness, and thus contribute directly to our understanding of the sea-level-rise potential of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Improving Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability and Re-use (FAIRness) of these data is thus at the core of PDC’s mission. In the last two years, significant progress has been made to improve the management of BAS aerogeophysics data, a challenging task considering that BAS is one of the largest acquisitors of airborne geophysics data over Antarctica. In 2020, we published bedrock elevation data for fourteen airborne radar surveys and more than thirty airborne gravity and magnetics datasets over Antarctica. This year, we will release large swaths of airborne radar data collected by BAS over the last two decades. This includes extensive surveys over Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, two catchments that have received considerable attention in recent years due to their potential to affect sea-level-rise on a global scale. In order to encourage the reuse and increase the value of these data, we also participate in a large variety of scientific research projects internationally. For instance, the wide coverage of airborne radar echo sounding over Antarctica is crucial for the SCAR Action Group BEDMAP3 project which aims to produce new maps of Antarctic ice thickness and bed topography. We hope this work will greatly benefit the geophysical and glaciological community and serve as a successful example of an effective partnership between scientists and data managers.