MARVL (Marine Virtual Laboratory).

Nationally, we currently lack a research environment within which to explore the science questions around seamless integration of the complex multi-disciplinary marine environment. This need is explicitly noted in DIISRTE[1]’s Strategic Roadmap for Australian Research Infrastructure[2]. A Virtual Laboratory in this space has a very high probability of success, given the significant level of underpinning investments, and clear societal need to unlock the full potential of these investments to address problems of national priority, and global significance.

The MARine Virtual Laboratory (MARVL) can provide all the tools necessary to construct a virtual environment of a region of interest. Comprised of a suite of complex models (e.g. ocean circulation, waves, water quality, and marine biogeochemistry), a network of observing sensors, and a host of value-adding tools, MARVL can underpin research to understand the dynamics, interactions, and connectivity of an estuarine/coastal region, continental shelf region, or open ocean domain.

The foundation of MARVL is a modelling system of ocean circulation and wave environment. Through a web-based environment builder (WebMARVL) researchers will be able to:

  1. efficiently configure a range of different community coastal/ocean and wave models for any region, for any time period, with model specifications of their choice, through a user-friendly web application,
  2. access data sets to initialise and force a model, and
  3. discover and assemble ocean observations from IMOS[3] and AODN[4]  in a format that is suitable for model evaluation or data assimilation.

MARVL is being developed in 2-stages, as an Early Activity and as a Stage 2 Activity. To showcase its potential the Early Activity will focus on an estuarine/coastal region in the Derwent Estuary of Tasmania, which has an established observing system, modelling system, and management regime. The MARVL infrastructure created and developed though this NeCTAR project will be used to explore scenarios, and demonstrate how a Virtual Laboratory can enable underpinning science in support of marine management in a specific regional context. The Stage 2 MARVL enables the infrastructure to be further developed to encompass Australia’s vast continental shelf and open ocean domains, as well as other estuarine/coastal regions. Regional case studies (in NSW, NT, QLD, SA, and WA) utilising different modelling components will provide evidence of MARVL’s flexibility . In concert, the two elements of MARVL will demonstrate the power of an integrated system working across the scales of a fully-connected global ocean.

MARVL is a NeCTAR funded virtual Laboratory (VL), designed to:
• Connecting researchers with existing and new research facilities
• Streamlining research workflows
• Adding value to existing investments in research infrastructure
• Creating new abilities
• Creating a new era of connectivity for Australian researchers

MARVL will improve and provide the following steps for modelling study:
• Decide processes to model
• Decide space / time scales of study
• Decide on choice of model(s)
• Obtain observation or model data for initialisation / boundary conditions
• Format data for input to model(s)
• Obtain observational data for process understanding, validation, data assimilation
• Run simulation(s)
• Visualise / analyse model output, create products

MARVL is designed to help speed up the modelling process by:
• Reducing up the time spent on setting up the model
• Allowing more time to be spent on developing knowledge

Who will benefit?
• Undergraduate teaching
• Postgraduate studies
• Marine Managers
• Researchers
• Consultants

What MARVL will do:
• Enable efficient configuration of a range of community ocean general circulation models to the marine science community in Australia and internationally;
• Enable efficient model inter-comparisons;
• Allow assessment of the sensitivity of model results to different model parameterisations (e.g., mixing schemes) and configurations (e.g, oceanic and atmospheric forcing);
• Deliver ensemble prediction capability – to help quantify uncertainty;
• Enable model evaluation through model-observation comparisons;
• Enable downscaling of IPCC models and the ACCESS forecast models;
• Provide options for running simulation (‘take-away’, cloud, grid computing);
• Provide for analysis and visualization of the model outputs, including linking to support tools for decision making (through the ANDS-funded MARVLIS).

MARVL will be Open Source, web browser based.

[1] Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
[2] http://www.innovation.gov.au/Science/Documents/2011StrategicRoadmapforAustralianResearchInfrastructure.pdf,p21
[3] Integrated Marine Observing System www.imos.org.au
[4] Australian Ocean Data Network http://portal.aodn.org.au/webportal/

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