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Natural Environment Research Council Designated Data Centres

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  • The project aim was to develop process-based computer simulations of the dispersal of Homo erectus out of Africa. This involved developing realistic constraints on the patterns of vegetation and the effects of changes in global sea level. It was assumed that this migration out of Africa could be investigated through the paradigm of a single migration event, starting around 2 millions of years ago and arriving in Dmanisi around 1.8 millions of years ago. The data archived here consists of the vegetation patterns used in constructing the simulations and the patterns of climate variability used to constrain the variations in sea level and vegetation change. From these data it is possible to reproduce the simulation results. Simulation results are available from J.K. Hughes, A. Haywood, S.J. Mithen, B.W. Sellwood, P.J. Valdes (In Press) Investigating Early Hominin Dispersal Patterns : developing a framework for climate data integration. Journal Of Human Evolution.

  • To reconstruct the maternal demographic history of the populations of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelagos using genetic profiles obtained from colonial era skeletal material and hair collections. The project had two main technical arms: to obtain authentic DNA data from well-handled museum collections of human material, which were a priori presumed to be heavily contaminated; to use the data to fill in lacuna in the genetic landscape left by large-scale demographic decline caused by disease and social disruption associated with the modern era. The major aim of the interpretative phase of the project was to obtain realistic estimates for the date of settlement of these island groups based on genetics because of the absence of reliable archaeological evidence. The main aim of this research was to determine whether the Andaman islanders were part of a very early radiation from Africa or arrived to their archipelago much later. The Nicobars were included in the research to have a comparative data set from the same region from people with a different phenotype. The data set is comprised of mitochondrial DNA control region sequences and coding region Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms.

  • This research sought to explore the pattern of population movement (direction, rate, permanency) along a hypothesised route from Africa to Australasia during Oxygen Isotope Stage 4. Using GIS-based analyses and hypothetical models of population movement, potential routes out of East Africa were generated and examined. The goal of these analyses was to assess the viability of particular routes, and consider them in terms of ecological and geographical constraints. As a result, several routes through Africa, Arabia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australasia were proposed and evaluated. These routes have been further examined with regards to archaeological site location, the timing of human presence in South Asia, and biological indicators of human diversity.

  • The spectacular botanical preservation and long occupation of Qasr Ibrim, Egypt make this site archaeobotanically matchless. 600 samples have been collected over 20 years covering a timespan of c. 1000 BC - AD 1800. The project has particularly focussed on the period AD 100-400 during which several new summer crops including sorghum, cotton, lablab and sesame first appear. These new crops are thought to be associated with the introduction of new irrigation technology, specifically a device known as the saqia, an ox-driven water wheel from which descends a conveyor belt to which pots are attached. It has never before been possible to examine this crucial change archaeologically and this project has allowed the investigation of when and how this great change happened. This has major implications for the history of agriculture in Africa and the Indian Ocean.

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    The Mediterranean-Alpine Experiment (MEDALPEX) data set comprises over 200,000 hourly sea level measurements. Data are included from 28 sites around the northern coast of the Mediterranean and one in the Atlantic at Cadiz. Measurements were collected from December 1981 and September 1982, with a special observing period (SOP) between 15 February and 30 April 1982. Twenty eight coastal sites were instrumented with conventional stilling wells, while one offshore site off Corsica used a bottom pressure recorder. The data are stored, together with benchmark information, as time series at each site with hourly values of sea surface elevation recorded to the nearest millimetre. The aim of the MEDALPEX Experiment was to study the role of atmospheric forcing on the dynamics of the Western Mediterranean. Data were supplied by laboratories in Belgium, France, Monaco, Italy, Spain, UK and former Yugoslavia. Responsibility for assembling, quality controlling and analyzing the sea level data collected during MEDALPEX was vested in the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC).

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    A set of historical tide gauge sea level records from Alicante (Spanish Mediterranean coast) have been recovered from logbooks stored at the Spanish National Geographical Institute (IGN). Sea level measurements have been digitised, quality-controlled and merged into two consistent sea level time series. Vertical references among instruments benchmarks have been derived from high precision vertical levelling surveys. Earlier observations are daily averages and more recent data are hourly values. The observations are from 7 different tide gauge records in Alicante outer harbour (Alicante I) and five tide gauge series in Alicante inner harbour (Alicante II). The sea level record in Alicante starts in 1870 with daily averaged values until the 1920s and hourly afterwards, and is still in operation, thus representing the longest tide gauge sea level time series in the Mediterranean Sea. The sea level at Alicante I has been measured by tide pole, floating gauge, mechanical recorder, digital recorder and since 2014 by radar gauge. The sea level at Alicante II has been measured by floating gauge, digital recorder and from 2014 onwards by radar gauge. This scarcity of long-term sea-level observations, as well as their uneven geographical distribution is a major challenge for climate studies that address, for example, the quantification of mean sea-level rise at centennial time scales, the accurate assessment of sea-level acceleration or the long-term changes in sea-level extremes that are vital for coastal risk assessments. This dataset represents an additional effort of sea-level data archaeology and aims at preserving the historical scientific heritage that has been up to now stored in old archives in non-electronic format. The research was partially funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities. A further series was rescued from Santander under the same initiative.

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    Macrofauna and polychaete species abundance data were obtained from replicate megacore samples collected from inside the Whittard Canyon (N.E. Atlantic) and the adjacent slope to the west of the canyon during cruise JC036 in June and July 2009. Four sites were sampled, three in the Whittard Canyon branches (Western, Central and Eastern) and one site on the slope to the west of the canyon. Five deployments were conducted in the Western branch, six in the Central and Eastern branches and five at the slope site. One extra deployment was made in the Central and Eastern branches to compensate for the failure to recover sufficient cores. All sites were located at 3500 m depth. Samples were collected using a Megacorer fitted with eight large (100 mm internal diameter) core tubes. Core slices from the same sediment layer from one deployment were pooled to make one replicate sample. The number of cores pooled per deployment ranged from 3 to 7 and the area of seabed sampled varied accordingly. The top three sediment horizons (i.e. 0–1, 1–3 and 3–5 cm), were analysed in toto. Macrofauna were identified to higher taxa levels, and polychaetes to species level and counts of species/taxa recorded for each site. AphiaIDs have been assigned to the samples - where identification was only possible to genus or family level, the aphiaIDs for genus and family have been supplied. The supplied aphaIDs are those that were acceptable at the time of the analysis and not their more recent superseding terms. This cruise was part of the HERMIONE project and the data formed the basis of L. Gunton's PhD thesis 'Deep-Sea Macrofaunal Biodiversity of the Whittard Canyon (NE Atlantic)'.

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    The data set comprises 2193 profiles of turbidity from an area of the Severn Estuary (UK) between the Shoots and Bridgwater Bay between 1974 and 1978. The data were collected as analogue records of continuous vertical profiles on a time series cross-section basis, where possible, over 13.5 hours from a drifting ship. All measurements were collected between 0 m and 39 m depth. The data coverage is derived from 172 stations along 17 survey lines, the density of coverage varying between 1 and 99 records per station. Each analogue record was digitised as approximately 200 pairs of XY coordinates. The X ordinates were then converted to depth (in metres) using a depth calibration and the Y ordinates to parts per million (PPM) of sediment using siltmeter calibration data. The Fluid Mud data bank was designed by the (former) Institute of Oceanographic Sciences (IOS) Taunton, UK, and the data were originally stored at IOS on a PDP 11 computer. They were then moved to an Oracle RDBMS at the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) and stored as the Bristol Channel Suspended Sediments Data Bank.

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    The dataset consists of northward and eastward baroclinic and barotropic current vectors derived from a 40 year run of the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory Coastal Ocean Modelling System (POLCOMS) numerical model, run from 01 January 1964 to 31 December 2004. The dataset consists of 41 data files in Climate and Forecast (CF) compliant NetCDF format. The data are supplied as a gridded dataset covering the entire northwest European continental shelf and extending out into the Atlantic Ocean. The grid resolution varies from 7.8 km to 14.2 km along the longitudinal axis and is at 12.3 km on the latitudinal axis. The model contains 40 depth layers. The model run was from 01 January 1964 to 31 December 2004. The barotropic currents were generated every 20 seconds, while the baroclinic currents were generated every 300 seconds. These generated currents were then averaged over a 25 hour tidal cycle to remove tidal current influence from the data. The dataset consists of 41 data files in Climate and Forecast (CF) compliant NetCDF format. The model simulations were run on the HECTOR supercomputer managed by the University of Edinburgh. The data were generated by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) Liverpool as part of Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) National Capability (NC) funding looking at multi-decadal variability and trends in temperature of the northwest European continental shelf.

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    A set of underwater noise observations which provide information on noise levels over an 21 year period potentially setting a base line for future environmental monitoring. The data were collected for military operations by RAF Nimrod aircraft using air-deployed sonobuoys. They consist of averaged noise levels, measured in db, at a range of frequencies and depths throughout the UK Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).