In 2017-18, an ANDS-Nectar-RDS (now the Australian Research Data Commons, ARDC) initiative called for applications from the e-research sector to enhance existing capability for “a world-leading data advantage”. As a result, NCI and its collaborators in Climate, Geoscience and Marine science responded with proposals for development projects in those three of NCI’s priority research communities. This led to three new Data-Enhanced Virtual Laboratories (DEVL): the Climate Science DEVL, GeoDEVL and Marine DEVL.

These build on existing middleware, data services, data management and HPC infrastructure at NCI. They will further increase the benefit and impact of NCI’s role in developing the national reference data collections, and enable faster access to increased volumes of existing climate, weather and satellite data.


The Climate Science DEVL, led by NCI, is a major software and data-based research infrastructure project that will enable Australian researchers and policy-makers to analyse the next generation of international climate data. This project builds on a previous community project at NCI; the Climate and Weather Science Virtual Laboratory. The project will augment the existing systems to allow researchers to contribute their model and data analysis to the World Climate Research Programme’s Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6). These can then become inputs to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s forthcoming 6th Assessment Report.

The majority of Australia’s climate research community will rely on two key enhancements for CMIP6 that are being developed in the DEVL. First, an automated system to handle petabytes of CMIP6 data that will be made available at NCI, reliably replicating the data over the high-bandwidth international science networks that connect NCI to the rest of the world. Secondly, DEVL enhancements in software will enable easier data analysis.


AuScope’s GeoDEVL project will enable the data discovery, delivery and computational analysis that underpins innovation in the sector. It forms the first part of a multi-year initiative to improve the understanding of the Earth under the surface and improved detection and extraction of important minerals, gas, coal and water.

NCI’s focus has been a ‘data-rescue’ activity to release a major Magnetotelluric data collection, dating back to 1993. Over its lifetime, this AusLAMP dataset cost several millions of dollars to collect, and is now being made available for the first time, and in a modern high-performance ready format for use by NCI researchers and geological survey organisations.


The Marine Virtual Laboratory (MARVL) will be developed by the Integrated Marine Observing System of Australia (IMOS) with NCI, the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and others. This will enable it to develop data and software services to underpin the Australian National Shelf-seas Reanalysis (ANSR), an important element of the national ocean modelling system.

The data services provided through this project will enable much improved opportunities for investigating the marine environment.

This research collaboration story was originally published in the 2017-2018 NCI Annual Report.