The Australian Geoscience Data Cube (AGDC) is a novel collaborative approach from Geoscience Australia, CSIRO and NCI for generating vast volumes of satellite earth observation and other geospatial datasets at the continental scale.
Soon to be replaced by the Australian Government-supported Digital Earth Australia program, the AGDC builds on 35 years of Landsat earth observation, and has evolved into a sophisticated system for managing and analysing varied earth observation datasets. This allows researchers to visually track changes in the Australian landscape – including bushfires, flood paths and land clearance – yielding valuable insights for agriculture, environment and resource management, and a variety of information products of value to industry.
The AGDC gives Australia a world-leading edge in the management of environmental data, and is the first time anywhere in the world that an entire continent's geographical and geoscientific attributes have been made available to researchers and policy makers—an achievement recognised by the AGDC winning the Content Platform of the Year at the 2016 Geospatial World Leadership Awards.
NCI's integrated high-performance computing and storage platform, along with its expert data services team, provides the high performance infrastructure and the capability needed to process and analyse petabyte-scale datasets.
Before the creation of the AGDC, satellite imagery and other geospatial datasets were downloaded, analysed and provided to users on a custom basis—a lengthy, high-cost approach that could only be used for a single purpose each time. Rapidly processing large data sources into usable products, such as bringing analysis time from months down to hours for the award-winning Water Observations from Space project, makes the previously impossible task of continental scale analysis now achievable.
Through its access via NCI's NERDIP platform, this data is widely available to the research community, allowing investigators to gain new insights into the Australian landscape as it changes over time. The new datasets support modern techniques for advanced analysis and use in agriculture, environment and natural resource management.
This Australian technology has opened up international partnerships, with development now taking place on the world stage. The underpinning satellite data is global, and, based on the open source Open Data Cube technology on which AGDC is based, the AGDC has been adapted for use in countries such as Cameroon, Columbia, and Kenya. This extends its reach well beyond its original Australian application by local agencies such as the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.