The Swarm Virtual Research Environment (VRE) is a cloud service which provides a web-based interactive development environment based on JupyterLab. This is backed by a curated set of Python software and ready-to-use Jupyter notebooks (executable documents containing code and possible explanations and graphics). The service hugely improves accessibility of Swarm data and models in a programmable way, with two main advantages over more typical paradigms in scientific research workflows:
- it removes the necessity for scientists to configure and maintain a software environment
- it enables easier sharing and reproducibility of analyses through notebooks
The VRE complements and integrates with the VirES graphical user interface, which provides easy point-and-click interaction with Swarm products. We open up the data access layer from VirES to enable more flexible usage, though inevitably requiring a greater skill level of the user. The system communicates with VirES through a Python package called viresclient, which itself is portable and can be installed in other systems. To provide the capability for users to perform scientific analyses the wider Python ecosystem is relied on, including tools such as xarray and cartopy, as well as packages from the scientific communities connected with Swarm. It is hoped that the VRE can help foster the development and maintenance of these projects.
Using technology from Project Jupyter, the VRE is accessible through your web browser. Data is transferred directly between VirES and the VRE so that you can view it without it transferring to your machine - this enables access to large datasets from most computers and internet connections. Since the Swarm Data, Innovation, and Science Cluster (DISC) takes care of maintaining the software environment, you can get to coding right away. These aspects together provide more equitable access to IT resources to people around the world.
Swarm DISC supply notebooks that demonstrate access to and analysis of Swarm products. This notebook resource coordinates contributions from scientists with different expertise, and aims to provide an accessible experience to help launch your investigations. These notebooks are visible directly from the launcher after connecting to the VRE. Find out more about the notebooks on GitHub.