Dr Annekathrin Jäkel
Data scientist at the AWI
Anne is an essential asset at meereisportal.de, where she’s responsible for preparing the data presented there. As such, she’s also the liaison between the researchers and computing centre. During her biotech studies, she also worked on the presentation of data, giving her both the technical and scientific background needed for her work on the data portal. Moreover, she finds sea ice a fascinating topic; having grown up in Bremerhaven, she has been in increasingly close contact with climate research.
For the purposes of her work, she needs both a firm command of various programming languages and the scientific skills to translate scientific requirements into a programming language. At the portal, her duties include optimising process routines, so that they are easier to maintain and can more efficiently execute modifications. She considers her job to be highly service-oriented, which is why it’s especially motivating for her when user feedback shows that the data and information provided at meereisportal.de are actually needed and actively used.
What do you need to bear in mind when preparing large amounts of data for users who don’t have a scientific background?
To use the data portal, you already have to have some basic knowhow and also be very interested in the topic. Consequently, the more important aspect is to make sure the figures are uniform, which helps users recognise the source and promotes brand recognition. The size and trim format should be uniform. There are also a number of tips and explanations on the landing page of meereisportal.de to help users with no scientific background make sense of the various types of data.
How has your own perspective on sea ice changed as a result of your work on the portal, and did you need a great deal of prior experience in order to work with the data?
At first I knew virtually nothing about sea ice. Of course I’d read up on the topic a bit in preparation for my job, but when you work with the data and read the news items on a regular basis, you quickly catch up. In addition, I don’t just see a single aspect like sea-ice concentration or sea-ice thickness; I now have a broader overview of all the data products that we offer, which has greatly expanded my perspective. And whenever we add a new product, the close collaboration with the researchers involved helps me quickly familiarise myself with it.
Do you feel that meereisportal.de is successful as a knowledge transfer project, and that people also feel it addresses their needs?
I have to say, it’s very impressive how much positive feedback we’ve received; I didn’t expect that. But it’s a highly topical issue and, with meereisportal.de, we’ve provided a German-language portal that appeals to a broad spectrum of users and offers them first-hand information. Needless to say, how they assess the information provided, and how important they feel it is for their own life, is something every user has to decide. But at least we can help ensure that everyone has access to the latest information.
If someone asked you what you actually do all day, the answer would be…?
That actually happens to me fairly often, for instance, when my parents or other relatives ask me to explain what I do. When they do, I tell them I’m responsible for preparing the sea-ice-specific data on the portal … and that, if they want more information, they should visit the site and see for themselves!