DATA TERRA is a research infrastructure aimed at making atmospheric, climatic, oceanographic, seismic and space data available to comprehensively understand and predict the history, functioning and evolution of the Earth system.

DATA TERRA: a data and service infrastructure for the Earth system

From data to knowledge of the Earth system


Planet Earth is a complex system, and observing and understanding its complexity requires access to multi-source, multi-thematic data, products and services.

Society and the Earth system are facing major changes at an unprecedentedly fast pace. Anthropogenic pressure is the source of multiple challenges that affect our societies, such as climate change, pollution, environmental and health risks, or compels us to better understand them.

Integrated knowledge of the Earth system is based on data acquired by satellites, ships, aircraft or weather balloons, and by on-site measurement systems, but also on processed data. This digital information (acquisition and transformed data) is a heritage to be preserved over the long term.

Facilitating access to quality data and information products on all compartments of the Earth system, regardless of their nature, their collecting method or their location, is a major challenge. Meeting this challenge requires interoperable infrastructures to accelerate the extraction, analysis, dissemination and intelligent use of data, indicators and models from national and international observing systems.

The ambition of the DATA TERRA infrastructure is to make these multisource datasets and the associated products and services accessible to the scientific community and national, European and international public and socio-economic bodies.


Since 2016, DATA TERRA has been listed in the national roadmap of Research Infrastructures (IRs) and Very Large Research Infrastructures (TGIRs) published by the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. It is supported by the coordinated policies of some thirty partner organizations and institutions [1]CNRS/INSU, CNES, IFREMER, INRAE, IRD, Météo-France, IGN, IPGP, CEA, SHOM, BRGM, CEREMA, CIRAD, INERIS, ONERA, Observatoire Côte d’Azur, Observatoire de Paris, École Polytechnique, Sorbonne Université, Université de Lille, Université Toulouse III Paul Sabatier, AgroParisTech, Université Grenoble-Alpes, Université Clermont-Auvergne, Université Strasbourg, Région Hauts de France..

Its goal is to develop a global system of access to data, products and services to comprehensively observe, understand and predict the history, functioning and evolution of the Earth system under global change. It is intended to support public policies for sustainable development.

Its objectives are to:

  • generate quality datasets, products and services, derived from spatial and field data through iterative processes;
  • disseminate them and facilitate access at national, European and international scales using distributed service platforms;
  • coordinate, pool and optimize all existing institutions, systems and resources;
  • implement integrated approaches at national, European and international level;
  • promote sharing, interoperability and the emergence of multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches and innovation.

This research infrastructure is organized around four interacting data clusters (AERIS for Atmosphere, ODATIS for Ocean, FORM@TER for Solid Earth and THEIA for Continental Surfaces) and cross-functional services for data discovery, access and management (FAIR [2]FAIR : Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable), and on-demand domain-based processing.

Several bodies are involved in the governance of DATA TERRA: a general assembly of representatives of all the partners; an executive committee including the CNRS, the CNES, the IFREMER, the IGN, the IRD, the INRAE, Météo France and MESRI/DGRI [3]DGRI: Directorate General for Research and Innovation ; a management committee comprising the director of the infrastructure, the directors of the 4 clusters and the technical director.

The joint service unit UMS-CPST acts as a Coordinator of Earth System data clusters and services, and provides support to the infrastructure’s activities in its missions of administration, management and technical coordination of the infrastructures and data and service centres. Its main supervising authorities are the CNRS/INSU, the CNES, the IFREMER, the IRD, the INRAE, the IGN and Météo France.

DATA TERRA in figures

  • 4 data clusters, cross-functional services including DINAMIS for access to spatial data, 25 data and service centres (CDS) and spatial data infrastructures (IDS), 30 expert consortia;
  • More than 400 scientists, engineers and technicians from more than 34 organizations and universities involved (175 FTEs in 2018);
  • A full-cost budget of 40 million euros per year on average;
  • More than 15,000 users of data, products and services;
  • A data volume of 50 petabytes in 2018 and an estimated volume of 150 PB in 2025.


English translation by Jean-François Nominé and  Richard Dickinson – Translation Unit, Inist-CNRS.