Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 1:45 PM
GEOINFORMATICS: TOWARD AN INTEGRATIVE VIEW OF EARTH AS A SYSTEM
Informatics is poised to transform mainstream research and education of geo- and biological sciences into a much more interdisciplinary field, involving the study of interactions between geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and anthrosphere, past and present. Geoinformatics provides the avenue to this integration, but adoption has been slow because of the significant social changes required for data sharing, access, discovery, and integration. Changing perception and use of informatics-supported science requires synergy between geoscientists and informatics specialists, but significant challenges must be met that encompass both social and technical considerations, such as professional credit for data sharing, simple and easy–to-use data registration (for on-demand access to heterogeneous, distributed data), and development of new approaches for evaluating trust and security in a web environment. Moreover, informatics must accommodate both discovery and merging of ‘big data’: gathered by remote sensing techniques, and ‘long tail’ data: collected and stored by individuals. This bimodal data environment poses a daunting challenge to informatics specialists because of its scale, distribution and heterogeneity. Solutions that use semantic technologies coupled with the semantic web and Linked Open Data are being developed that will enable geoscientists to share, discover, and integrate data. These technologies require geoscientists to develop controlled vocabularies in their richly structured form, i.e. ontologies which will enable semantic approaches to searching, retrieval, integration, modeling, and analysis. We recommend that the geoscience community develop and manage an Earth System Ontology that enables objects (e.g., materials), process (e.g., chemical reactions), and services (e.g., simulation models or geochemical filters) to be embedded within the semantic layer of emerging e-Geoscience, thereby enabling automated discovery, analysis, utilization, and understanding of data through both induction and deduction. The impact of informatics on geoscience can become transformative as people and data come together in support of a more secure future for Earth and its environments.