Science Demonstration Scenarios

Our work is driven by demonstration scenarios in the context of the Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) project. Many of the new CZO models are extensions to existing models but their development is often not coordinated with the management and ongoing development of the model they are derived from. For example, during the first years of the Shale Hills CZO funding, several water and energy models were developed and now these models are being extended to model transport processes, stable isotopes, biogeochemistry and the carbon-nitrogen system. OntoSoft will provide connections that will provide significant benefit to this emerging, cross-disciplinary science.

Science Requirements from Early Career Advisory Board

The OntoSoft project has an Early Career Advisory Committee that is broad and diverse in its composition and cuts across geosciences disciplines. Through regular communication, we are obtaining feedback and iterating on the infrastructure development to better serve the geosciences community.

Science Requirements from the EarthCube End-User Community Workshops

NSF funded a series of EarthCube end-user community workshops through 2013 and 2014 in order to generate a better understanding of the cyber-infrastructure needs of the broad geoscience community so that these needs could be addressed through its EarthCube initiative. Workshop themes included: Community Modeling (co-organized by CSDMS, CUAHSI and CIG), the Critical Zone, Paleogeoscience, Data Prediction & Ensemble Assimilation, the EarthScope project, Education, MYRES, Envisioning a Digital Crust, Experimental Stratigraphy, Petrology & Geochemistry, Sedimentary Geology, Structural Geology & Tectonics and Inland Waters & Geochemistry. The reports from these workshops, as well as the EarthCube concept award roadmaps are remarkably consistent in terms of the concerns and issues that they emphasize, summarized below:

  • Concerns of software contributors: Where and how should I publish my software and supporting materials so that people can easily find it, learn about it, use it and reuse it new contexts? What metadata do I need to provide to ensure that my software gets used and used properly? How can I track who uses it and how will they cite it so I get credit? How can I learn about best practices and conventions used for my programming language? What type of open-source license should I use? I know version control is important, but keep forgetting the svn commands; is there a GUI available?
  • Concerns of software users: How do I find open-source software to solve problems I encounter in my research? I’d like to choose the best tool for my problem; is there a feature comparison table or wizard that can help me choose? Are there benchmark tests that I can run (with test data) for evaluation? How should I cite the software so the author gets credit? Is there good documentation, a user community and/or a GUI that will make it easier for me to learn about and use the software? I’ve created an extension (or tutorial, video, set of input data files or data preparation workflow) for the software; is there an easy way to share that with others that find it useful?

Most geoscientists are happy to share their software products with their community and there are many existing data and software repositories and related projects. Most federal agencies make their data holdings and some of their software available to the community. Despite (and partially because of) all of this sharing and web-access, however, geoscientists still find it frustrating to find/identify the resources they need, learn yet another web interface, get them in the form they require and learn how to use them. We believe that the only way to effectively address these issues is to provide a mechanism for collecting this metadata that is inexpensive, tolerated by the provider (i.e. as easy to use as possible, with access to context-specific help) and which provides assurances that the metadata collected is high-quality and will make the software discoverable.

We note that technology cannot solve all of the problems --- some of them require social change to recognize the value of high-quality geoscience software and take into account rewards and incentives. To this end, our project needs to be part of the EarthCube vision and work with the community to address software-specific needs.

Science Requirements from EarthCube Research Coordination Networks

The EarthCube Research Coordination Networks (RCNs) were established as a follow-on to the EarthCube End User Workshops to foster science community networks in the context of EarthCube. The OntoSoft project is collaborating with the existing RCNs to uncover software requirements for their communities. In particular, we are collaborating with:

Science Requirements from EarthCube Science Committee

The OntoSoft project will interact with the newly formed EarthCube Science Committee as appropriate to discern software sharing and sustainability requirements.