In 2013, France's National Centre for Space Studies, CNES, and National Center for Scientific Research, CNRS, put forward the idea of fusing data management and scientific assessment activities, which had previously been split between various partners, at national level within thematic clusters relating to the different compartments – "Solid Earth", "Continental Surfaces", "Atmosphere" and "Ocean" –combining satellite and in situ data.
The main aim of these clusters is to provide the scientific community with data, products and services to allow researchers to carry out studies on the characterisation and evolution of the ocean and thereby more fully understand these aspects.
These thematic clusters are made up of two main components:
- an infrastructure distributed across several existing centres,
- a scientific expertise group under the auspices of a multi-organisation steering committee which defines the challenges, the scope of the data to be managed, and the procedures and products to be developed.
Among the specific objectives of this infrastructure, the implementation of the following services is under consideration:
- Providing qualified data series described for scientific uses in compliance with the highest standards in force.
- Implementing methods which enable the interoperability of datasets in order to overstep spatial, temporal and disciplinary limits.
- Promoting the combined use of different types of observations (in situ/satellite) from different sources (offshore/coastal networks).
- Facilitating the use of the information contained in the databases by providing browsing, viewing, extraction and analysis tools as well as appropriate calculation methods.
- Guaranteeing the continuity of heritage datasets and facilitating their collection.
Furthermore, the thematic clusters are tasked with drawing up an "inter-organisation database map", as mentioned in Ifremer's Strategic Plan. The IDM unit fully adheres to this initiative, whose approach is similar to that launched in Europe through marine data management research infrastructure projects such as SeaDataNet.
The unit will coordinate its orientations and actions with partners from the Odatis cluster and will be involved in its implementation.