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International Award for Information Technology Goes to Research Institutions in the German Federal State of Bremen for PANGAEA®

The Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association (AWI) and the Center for Marine Environmental Sciences (MARUM) received the 21st Century Achievement Award of the Computerworld Honors Program in the category Environment, which is one of the most prestigious awards in information technology.

The award has been granted in response to PANGAEA's implementation and successful operation of a unique information system for archiving, publishing and processing of earth system data. Designed to support an integral view on earth, this information system was named after the supercontinent, combining all continents 200 Million years ago: Pangaea.

During the last decades the capability and precision of tools used to sample and analyze our earth have increased exponentially - with an analogous increase in the resulting data output. At the same time, the information technology has made significant advances, which allow storage, distribution and processing of a nearly unlimited amount of data. Not concurrent with this progress is, however, the development of a related culture for a sustainable delivery of scientific data to future research

It is no longer feasible to publish data in publications. In spite of this, the bibliographic archiving of primary data from projects and publications is still not an integral part of the scientific workflow and thus most of the data are getting lost while hardware and software are changing quickly. Today this is considered to be one of the most crucial deficiencies in science. Various institutions, foundations and international organizations like the OECD are currently formulating recommendations for an improved data archiving.

Thanks to the support of AWI's computer centre, scientists at AWI and MARUM after many years of work were able to build a sustainable information system. PANGAEA®, as a universal data library, is also a publication system and allows integration of data in the established process of scientific publications. Thus Pangaea is an information system, which encourages scientists to freely archive their data in an open access environment.

Through a well-defined editorial workflow, the archived data are related to any information required for its understanding being citable and accessible in formats following international standards. The universality of the system allows the storage of any parameter from the upper atmosphere down into the deep earth crust, covering the wide range of disciplines in natural sciences. Extraction of individual subsets from the inventory is enabled through a data warehouse, which, as part of the PANGAEA® system, provides the framework for solving new scientific questions related to our earth.

Notes for Editors: Your contact person at the Alfred Wegener Institute is Dr Hannes Grobe (phone: +49 471 4831-1220, email: Your contact person in the public relations department is Ralf Roechert (phone: +49/471/4831-1680; email:

The Alfred Wegener Institute carries out research in the Arctic and Antarctic as well as in the high and mid latitude oceans. The institute coordinates German polar research and makes available to international science important infrastructure, e.g. the research icebreaker "Polarstern" and research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic. AWI is one of 15 research centres within the Helmholtz-Association, Germany's largest scientific organization.

The MARUM aims at unravelling the role of the oceans in the Earth's system by employing state-of-the-art methods. It examines the significance of the oceans within the framework of global change, quantifies interactions between the marine geosphere and biosphere, and provides information for a sustainable use of the ocean.

Margarete Pauls | idw
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