Challenges and opportunities for a new generation of data services for geoscience education and research

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Tuesday, 31 January 2006: 8:30 AM
Challenges and opportunities for a new generation of data services for geoscience education and research
A412 (Georgia World Congress Center)
Mohan K. Ramamurthy, Unidata/UCAR, Boulder, CO

Presentation PDF (65.9 kB)

A revolution is underway in the role played by cyberinfrastructure and data services in the conduct of research and education. We live in an era of an unprecedented data volume from diverse sources, multidisciplinary analysis and synthesis, and active, learner-centered education emphasis. For example, modern remote-sensing systems like hyperspectral satellite instruments and rapid scan, phased-array radars are capable of generating terabytes of data each day. Complex environmental problems such as global change and water cycle transcend disciplinary and geographic boundaries, and their solution requires integrated earth system science approaches. Contemporary education strategies recommend adopting an Earth system science approach for teaching the geosciences, employing new pedagogical techniques such as enquiry-based learning and hands-on activities. In essence, today's education and research enterprise depends heavily on robust, flexible and scalable cyberinfrastructure, especially on the ready availability of quality data and appropriate tools to process, manage, analyze, integrate, and visualize those data.

Fortuitously, rapid advances in computing, communication and information technologies have also revolutionized the use of data, tools and services in education and research. The explosive growth in the use of the Internet in education and research, largely due to the advent of the World Wide Web, is by now well documented. On the other hand, how other technological, social and cultural trends have shaped the use of data services is less well understood. For example, the computing industry is converging on an approach called Web services that enables a standard and yet revolutionary way of building applications and methods to connect and exchange information over the Web. This new approach, based on XML a widely accepted format for exchanging data and corresponding semantics over the Internet - enables applications, computer systems, and information processes to work together in a fundamentally different way. Likewise, the advent of digital libraries, grid computing platforms, interoperable frameworks, standards and protocols, open-source software, and community atmospheric models have been important drivers in shaping the use of a new generation of end-to-end cyberinfrastructure for solving some of the most challenging scientific and educational problems.

This presentation will provide an overview of these issues and discuss the how these developments are enabling new approaches to applying data services for solving geoscientific problems.