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Project Members:

Ines Hessler (

ANDS Contact:

Alan Glixman (

Project Status:


Macquarie University Major Open Data Collection

Macquarie University

Project Description

Understanding how climate impacts on the biology of plants is the key to enrich policy and decision-making to better adapt Australia’s economy to deal with climate change. Addressing this need, TERN’s (Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network) Ecosystem Modelling and Scaling Infrastructure (eMAST) has developed, using observations from the Bureau of Meteorology, various climate surfaces for reliably estimating average climatic conditions.

In a related eMAST activity, Australian scientist, Professor Michael Hutchinson, lead the development of TERN’s eMAST ANUClimate 1.0, a spatial model that integrates a new approach to interpolate Australia’s national point climate data to produce climate on a 0.01° grid (~ 1km). This work has been funded by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

As the lead node of the TERN eMAST facility, Macquarie University researchers then extended the work done on the eMAST climate surfaces to transform and summarise the ANUClimate surfaces into a set of bioclimatic averages, which can be more readily related to the distribution, abundance and phenology of Australian ecosystems. The work is based on pioneering methods by Professor Henry Nix (Australian National University), Professor Michael Hutchinson (Australian National University) and Professor Colin Prentice (Macquarie University, Imperial College – UK).

To enable the transformation the software tool, called the eMAST R-Package, has been developed. The surfaces and their metadata produced by the developed software tools are made available to the community via TERN, Australian National Data Service (ANDS), Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI) and National Computing Infrastructure (NCI) data services.

The bioclimatic variables produced by the eMAST R-Package are well established and commonly used in ecological applications, for instance, to examine the impact of climate on vegetation processes in the context of what that means for ecosystems in space and time. So far, the Species Distribution Modelling Community are major users of these data (

In this project a harmonised data set of over 50 bioclimatic variables will be calculated following existing eMAST protocols. The input climate forcing data have been derived from the European WATCH project. This routinely calculated set of bioclimatic variables is also useful to other disciplines such as engineering, policy, computer science, and health research to study, amongst others, the effect of heat waves and other climate extremes on public health. Furthermore, using the WATCH data as a basis, eMAST’s bioclimatic variables can be generated on a global scale, making the resulting data sets attractive for the international community. The produced data sets are going to be integrated into a new data repository called meta. In addition, the new data repository will also house other eMAST data products.

This new data collection will be made publicly available via the Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI). The data will be provided with both self-contained (i.e. in the file) and RIF-CS compliant metadata, and will be easily accessible via an online service with evaluation and extraction tools, therefore exposing the data compilation to a wider variety of potential users.