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Trieste Next: Scientific data and how best to communicate them

26 September 2023

Big marathon for NODC at Trieste Next, Festival of Scientific Research this year! After the conference on Open Science, NODC, represented by Chiara Altobelli, organised 3 runs of the talk and immersive experience "Discovering the Laura Bassi research vessel and beyond: videos and virtual tours to talk about science".

The NODC starts the talk with a brief overview of its over 20 years of activity since 2002, when the Centre was recognised as the Italian reference within the International Oceanographic Data Exchange System of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Chiara Altobelli explained that the OGS has played a fundamental role in the management of marine data at national and international level since the 1980s. The increasing importance of data preservation and integration to produce Big Data for modelling environmental conditions and predicting their evolution led the OGS to formally define the NODC infrastructure for oceanographic data management in 2004. Since then, the Centre has grown exponentially to keep pace with cultural and technological innovation. Currently, with over 300,000 profiles of water columns in coastal and offshore areas, the National Oceanographic Data Centre OGS manages the most comprehensive marine data archive in Italy.

To mark our 20th anniversary, we wanted people to know the NODC and the work of data centres with a video that raises awareness of data-driven knowledge to address the current environmental crisis.” Said Chiara Altobelli.

Pablo Apiolazza from APZmedia Creative studio showed the video they made for NODC and explained the techniques used to describe the Centre in a short and engaging way. Finally, he spoke about the latest technologies used to convey scientific information such as virtual tours, artificial intelligence and motion capture. “These technologies need to be put at the service of scientific knowledge to convey reliable information and best practices instead of fake news and anti-social behaviour. In this context, he presented the virtual tour of the research vessel (R/V) Laura Bassi. More than 100 people of all ages experienced the virtual tour at the OGS stand during and after the talk, which took place on Saturday afternoon, 23 September, at 6pm and on Sunday, 24 September, at 10.30am and 5pm.

Roberto Romeo, Daniela Accettella and Michela Dal Cin from the OGS Centre for the Management of Maritime Infrastructures concluded the talk by explaining the main features of the Laura Bassi, the icebreaker research vessel.

Michela Dal Cin described in particular the use of sound waves to capture images of the subsurface. These images allow researchers to identify and map many types of geological elements and processes, such as geometries and ages of sediments and rocks, faults and their history, accumulations and migration of fluids, etc. “This information is crucial for the study of Earth's evolution and for the sustainable management of the marine environment." Said the researcher.

We only know 25% of the seabed,” Daniela Accettella warned, adding: “Even if Google Earth would have us believe otherwise. That's why scientists are working hard to collect data from areas of intense human activity as well as remote areas like the polar regions.” She also spoke about Italy's research interests in Antarctica and what types of research are being carried out on board the Laura Bassi. These range from taking samples from the air, water column and seabed sediments to collecting data on the seabed at various depths and levels of detail, as previously described by Michela Dal Cin. Finally, the researcher also explained sophisticated acoustic systems. They are called multibeam because they use a beam of high-frequency acoustic waves to collect data and map the shape of the seabed, which is scientifically called morphobathymetry. In the depths of the ocean (3000 m), depth differences of up to 1200 m between multibeam echo sounder data and Google Earth data are found.