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Semantic Data Frameworks: The Ins and Outs of current Earth and Space Science Informatics

Peter Fox
National Center for Atmospheric Research

May 14 2008
10:00am to 11:00am Lally 102
Refreshments at 9:30


In the past decade, the emergence of high volume, heterogeneous data sources arising as a result of new observational methods, detectors, and computer technology has led to the adoption of both new paradigms and technical approaches in acquiring, managing and distributing data and information products to diverse audiences. Increasingly, researchers are being challenged to advance scientific understanding using either complex disciplinary or interdisciplinary data holdings and more and more often, data from both observations and models that they may not have generated. Terms such as virtual, integrated, distributed, interdisciplinary, non-specialist and multi-stakeholder present a panolopy of both technical and non-technical challenges.

What has emerged is a natural layering of modern cyberinfrastructure built on now (almost) commodity information technology. However, the translation of science needs and functionality of what are commonly called 'data systems', have had variable success in sustainably utilizing the still evolving cyberinfrastructure.

This talk will present context, introduce and define concepts, and highlight the growing awareness that informatics is a key linking element between science and cyberinfrastructure. Using a few examples, we will cover the problem and accompanying implemented solutions, such as details on semantic web and related methodologies and technologies. The talk will conclude with a discussion of, that taken together, how an emerging set of collected experience manifests an emerging semantically-enabled informatics core capability that is starting to take data intensive science into a new realm of realizability and potentially, sustainability. Pointers to implementations, including one deployed system in use by a community of 1000 scientists, will be included as examples of operational specifications of the new paradigm.


As Chief Computational Scientist at the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Fox's research specializes in the fields of solar and solar-terrestrial physics, computational and computer science, information technology, and grid-enabled, distributed semantic data frameworks. This research utilizes state-of-the-art modeling techniques, internet-based technologies, including the semantic web, and applies them to large-scale distributed scientific repositories addressing the full life-cycle of data and information within specific science and engineering disciplines as well as among disciplines. Fox is currently PI for the Virtual Solar-Terrestrial Observatory, the Semantically-Enabled Scientific Data Integration, Semantic Provenance Capture in Data Ingest Systems and the CEDAR database projects. Fox has spent over 22 years bridging science and distributed data and information systems to support community activities utilizing use case driven design. Fox leads working groups for: Virtual Observatories for the Electronic Geophysical Year, semantic web for NASA technology infusion as well as the Earth Science Information Partnership federation, is vice-chair of the AGU Special Focus Group on Earth and Space Science Informatics, is an associate editor for the Earth Science Informatics journal, is a member of the editorial board for Computers in Geosciences and lead editor for the AGU monograph Virtual Observatories in Geosciences currently in preparation. Fox is a member of the ad-hoc International Council for Science's Strategic Committee for Information and Data. Fox also currently serves as President for the not-for-profit Open source Project for a Network Data Access Protocol (OPeNDAP).

Hosted by: Deborah McGuinness (x4404) and Jim Hendler (x4401)

Administrative support: Jacqueline Carley (x4384)

For more information:

Dr. Fox's Homepage

Last updated: 4/25/2008