Balloon Sensor Released to Collect Data on Agriculture Biodiversity Impacts

Balloon Sensor

Andalusia, the region home to the LifeWatch ERIC Statutory Seat and ICT-Core, drives the innovative Smartfood Project in the agricultural and fishing sectors. SmartFood is led by the Andalusia Agency for Agriculture and Fisheries Development (AGAPA), which is part of the Junta de Andalucía, and its aim is to better understand the impact of agriculture on the region’s biodiversity. On Monday 18 July, in Cordoba, a project event was held in which a balloon sensor probe was thrown, attended by LifeWatch ERIC CEO, Christos Arvanitidis, CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, Project Coordinator, Rocío Moreno Domínguez, Direction Secretary and QARM/FitSM Technical Assistant, María Luz Vázquez Santana, and Satellite & HAPS Operations Manager for Earth Observations and Navigation Applications, Jaime Lobo.

The first flight of the balloon sensor probe took place on Cordoba University Campus, called ‘Rabanales’, with the principal aim of gathering data on the agricultural impact on a natural environment, as well as identifying and quantifying variables associated with ecosystem services in the agricultural sector.

AGAPA Director, José Carlos Álvarez Martín, commented on the importance of governamental institutions like Junta de Andalucía supporting projects as Smartfood, given the strategic importance of the agriculture and fishing sectors.

In the same vein, Dr Arvaniditis noted that the Andalusian region is a strategic European partner, due to its agricultural potential and natural protected areas becoming a hotspot for the development of these kinds of projects.

Finally, Dr González-Aranda highlighted that these types of projects are essential for sustainability development and innovation, so that we can measure the impact of climate change in order to advise better decision-making based on FAIR data. He also mentioned the importance of optimising existing distributed resources by improving our understanding of their associated ecosystem services.

Research Infrastructures Accelerating Global Effort to Achieve Environmental Sustainability

ESOF 2022

Today, 15 July 2022, the ERIC Forum organised an online session as part of the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF2022), taking place in Leiden from 13 – 16 July 2022.

The session, entitled “Research Infrastructures’ contribution to environmental sustainability puts Research Infrastructures and the added value they bring to the European Research Area in the spotlight, with their major role in creating new opportunities to advance scientific research, enabling access to large-scale facilities and e-Science infrastructures.

LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, is joining the session with a presentation on the “The key role of Research Infrastructures to advance Environmental Sustainability through Digital Transformation”. Illustrating the role that LifeWatch ERIC tools like Tesseract and LifeBlock can play in the organisation and management of knowledge, the presentation demonstrates how, through the many projects in which the infrastructure is involved, they can support biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services monitoring and assessment, and ultimately human well-being, contributing to the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals, as well as the targets of the European Biodiversity Strategy and Green Deal.

Today’s panel also witnesses the participation of ESBB President, Dominik Lermen, Deputy Director of CERIC-ERIC, Ornela de Giacomo, Director General of BBMRI-ERIC, Jens Habermann, and was moderated by the ERIC Forum Chair, and Director of JIV-ERIC, Francisco Colomer.

All Hands on Deck to Define the LifeWatch ERIC Roadmap

Roadmap News

Circa eighty members of the LifeWatch ERIC Common Facilities and representatives of the Member States gathered in the LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core headquarters in Seville on 12 and 13 July for a meeting on the future of the Infrastructure.

Kicking off the two-day proceedings were Executive Board members CEO Christos Arvanitidis, CTO Juan Miguel González-Aranda and CFO Lucas de Moncuit, who presented the LifeWatch ERIC Strategic Work Plan for 2022–2026, and José Carlos Álvarez Martín, Managing Director of the Agricultural and Fisheries Management Agency of Andalusia, who stressed the importance of the collaboration between LifeWatch ERIC and the Andalusian Region, for the sustainable development of the region, particularly in the field of agroecology. 

Overall, the strategic objectives of the meeting were to plan and coordinate the work of the Common Facilities and Member States, through their Distributed Centres, to achieve the strategic objectives at the heart of the new strategic working plan and of the many projects in which the research infrastructure is currently engaged. The expertise available within LifeWatch ERIC is wide-ranging, from ecology to ICT, from agronomy to metagenomics, just to name a few examples – hence the added value of the infrastructure’s capacity to actively contribute in multiple domains, both scientifically and technically.

The work was organised in plenary and parallel sessions, the latter divided along the three working groups corresponding to three main branches of activities: 

  • DemeterWatch, cementing Agroecology as one of the infrastructure’s key activities run through many projects like ALL-Ready, Agroserv, Andalusia ERDF, Smart Food and resulting into the establishment of a core group and a roadmap to coordinate activities in this domain;
  • HermesWatch, advancing in the co-deployment and co-maintenance of the ICT Infrastructure and restructuring current working group organization;
  • Strategic Working Plan implementation, Andalusia ERDF and EU funded projects, translating the Strategic Working Plan into a practical plan which will guide LifeWatch ERIC until 2026, and analysing ERDF and EU-funded projects tasks, activities and deliverables to engage Common Facilities and Distributed Centres in further Research Collaboration within this framework.

Concluding the two days’ activities, the group worked together to define the first version of the LifeWatch ERIC Actionable Roadmap, with the mission of devising, structuring and accelerating the automatic interoperability of data, resources and open digital services for the benefit of researchers, and with the ultimate goal of accurately informing decision-making on climate change and on the protection of biodiversity throughout the planet.

Fostering synergies between LifeWatch ERIC and the Huelva Province


On 8 July, a LifeWatch ERIC delegation composed of the Chief Technology Officer, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, and LifeWatch ERIC QARM – FiTSM Technical Assistant for ICT-Core, María Luz Vázquez-Santana, together with the Coordinator of the main initiative of the Smart Food AgroEcology Andalusia ERDF, Rocío Moreno, met with the President of Diputación of the Huelva province, María Eugenía Limón.
The question at the heart of the meeting was how to foster ongoing collaborations and create new synergies between the e-Science Research Infrastructure, LifeWatch ERIC, and the Province of Huelva: a strategical area playing a pivotal trans-boundary role in the Euroregion Algarve-Alentejo-Andalucía and the Doñana Natural Area.
In the framework of the Europe of the Regions vision, LifeWatch ERIC has been involved since 2014 and working to enact the “Thinking globally, acting locally” motto, in particular in the domains of Citizen Science and Gender and Inclusiveness, the latter carried out within the framework of the GenderWatch initiative.

The Hercules Supercomputer

Hercules Supercomputer

On 7 July, LifeWatch ERIC CTO and other ICT staff members visited the Hercules Supercomputer-HPC premises hosted by the CICA – Centro Informático Científico de Andalucía (Andalusian Scientific Computer Centre)–, as one of the main facilities involved in the LifeWatch ERIC AstarteWatch network. The equipment, which is located in Seville at the aforementioned centre, has a RAM of 47.5 terabytes (47,500 GB), a capacity of 1,000 TB (1 PB) and a power of calculation that is estimated at 855 teraflops, equivalent to 855 billion floating point operations per second (FLOPS), which is the parameter used to measure the effiency of this type of machine. That could be likened to nearly 4,000 mid-range PCs working at the same time!

In addition, it is made up of 232 computing nodes with 11,136 last generation processing cores. This equipment will improve the capability of the current supercomputer that CICA has by over 99%, whose characteristics are concentrated in 64 calculation nodes with 656 cores and a performance of 6.2 teraflops and 18 TB of storage.

This will considerably improve LifeWatch ERIC’s HPC capacity, in adherence with both EOSC and EuroHPC requirements.

ProMeteo Project Presented in Seville

The ProMeteo project launched by Seville City Council, which will classify and name heat waves according to their impact, and provide a network of climate shelters to protect people from excessive temperatures, will be made possible by the involvement of LifeWatch ERIC and other strategic partners.

The mayor of Seville, Antonio Muñoz, and the director of the Adrienne Arsht Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center, Kathy Baughman McLeod, the organisation promoting the initiative, thanked partners of the project at a launch on 21 June 2022.

Seville’s pioneering strategy recognises the serious consequences that extended periods of extreme heat can have on people’s health, on animals and on the economy. Names will be attributed to heat waves and alert warnings issued on the basis on forecasts made by an algorithm capable of predicting and classifying impacts in advance.

Alongside LifeWatch ERIC, the ProMeteo initiative includes the Spanish Meteorology Agency, the University of Seville, the Pablo de Olavide University, the Carlos III Institute, the Spanish Office for Climate Change, and the Alliance “El Día Después”. For more information, click here.

United in Biodiversity: Advancing Andalusia’s Green Revolution through the Digital Transformation

Andalusia's Green Revolution

LifeWatch ERIC CTO Dr Juan Miguel González-Aranda has been featured in the Tribuna de Andalucía to present six of theprojects in which the Research Infrastructure is involved in the heartland of its ICT-Core and Statutory Seat offices. The title of the article is “United in Biodiversity: Advancing Andalusia’s Green Revolution through Digitisation”, and the ERDF projects presented demonstrate how LifeWatch ERIC uses state-of-the-art technology such as AI, Deep Learning and Virtual Research Environments to protect biodiversity, in collaboration with other important figures in the research sector, such as CSIC, the University of Malaga, the University of Granada, the Junta de Andalucía, and many more.

Additionally, by following a participatory approach to its work, LifeWatch ERIC aims to raise awareness among citizens about the important projects it has underway, which in turn can contribute to preserving the variety and richness of terrestrial, marine and transitional ecosystems.

Click here to read the full article on page 15 (in Spanish).

EU-SOLARIS at LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core Office

EU-SOLARIS at LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core Office

On 2 June, Eng. Antonio López-Martínez, Project Manager and Coordinator of EU-SOLARIS, visited the LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core premises in Seville. EU-SOLARIS is the European SOLAR Research Infrastructure for Concentrated Solar Power based in Almeria (Spain), which entered the ESFRI roadmap in 2010, becoming a landmark in 2018, and which will be established as an ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) in October 2022.

EU-SOLARIS ERIC will be hosted by CIEMAT, the Centre for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research (Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas) at the PSA, the Almeria Solar Platform (Plataforma Solar de Almería) premises.

The EU-SOLARIS vision is to further assist Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) and Solar Chemistry technology deployment by enhancing the research infrastructure’s development and Research and Technology Development (R&D) coordination. EU-SOLARIS is expected to be the first of its kind, where industrial needs and private funding will play a significant role.

“LifeWatch ERIC is looking forward to the imminent establishment of EU-SOLARIS as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium”, says Dr Juan Miguel Gonzaléz-Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer, “We are glad to welcome today Eng Lopéz-Martínez at the ICT-Core office here in Seville. We are already working together, as energy and environment are two domains which are critical for a more sustainable future”.

CSIC’s Executive Board Members visit LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core

CSIC’s Executive Board Members visit the LifeWatch ERIC ICT Core

On Wednesday 1 June, Dr Jesús Marco de Lucas (Vice-President for Science and Technology of the National Spanish Research Council – CSIC), and Dr Margarita Peneque Sosa (Institutional Coordinator for Andalusia – CSIC) did LifeWatch ERIC the honour of visiting its ICT-Core premises. CSIC is in fact one of the main stakeholders of LifeWatch ERIC in Spain, and the two organisation are tightly working together in the framework of the SUMHAL project.
This project implements a strategy for the conservation of biodiversity in sustainable natural systems of the western Mediterranean area. Its main objective is to combine the results of the work in the field with the opportunities made available through Virtual Research Environments in terms of storage capacity, management and analytical tools, as well as the dissemination of relevant information on the conservation status of Andalusian biodiversity and ecosystems.
The SUMHAL project is contributing not only to the upgrade of the LifeWatch ERIC distributed e-Infrastructure at all levels, from hardware and software, to Human Resources and much more, but also to the enlargement of the infrastructure’s offer of Core and Thematic e-services for emerging communities of practice, focusing on Mediterranean Ecosystems.
At a critical time for its deployment at the European level, the synergies between its ICT-Core and the SUMHAL project will enable LifeWatch ERIC to provide the European scientific community with a large volume of organised systematised information made available through the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), and at the same time ensure its compliance with LifeWatch ERIC standards.
The SUMHAL project, thanks to the pivotal role played by CISC, the most relevant research institution active in Andalusia, is designing a getaway to attract new users and engage new practitioners in Mediterranean Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research fields. This will have a positive impact on direct and indirect networking, training, communication and dissemination activities, and stimulate knowledge and technology transfer and exchange, enhancing LifeWatch ERIC’s capacity to reach out to stakeholders and international key players (GBIF, GEOSS-GEOBON, CAFF-AMBI, among others) in a transdisciplinary way.
Therefore, the SUMHAL project marks a milestone in the development of LifeWatch ERIC, opening new collaborations for the development of new green and eco-sustainable RD+I activities, and offering the latest advances in biodiversity studies to design Spanish and international, policies to tackle the global changes that are particularly affecting Mediterranean ecosystems.

LifeWatch ERIC to Collaborate in New Observatory in the Mar Menor

Observatory in the Mar Menor

Three members of the LifeWatch ERIC Executive Board, alongside collaborator Professor Angel Pérez-Ruzafa, attended the Life Transfer Summit in Murcia today, to mark the opening of an observatory in the Mar Menor, an initiative in which the research infrastructure will actively collaborate. CEO Dr Christos Arvanitidis, CTO Dr Juan Miguel González-Aranda, Service Centre Director Professor Alberto Basset and Professor Ruzafa all made presentations at the meeting, which was attended by Mr Antonio Luengo, Environmental Minister of the Murcia region, to bring his support of the infrastructure on the occasion.

The Life Transfer project, Seagrass Transplantation for Transitional Ecosystem Recovery, aims to trigger the process of recolonisation of aquatic phanerogams –known as “ecosystem engineers”– in selected Mediterranean lagoons. These lagoons are all part of Natura 2000 sites in Spain, Italy and Greece, and the project is funded through the Life programme. You can read more about the project and its initial results here.