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From virtual libraries to virtual laboratories; enabling integration of earth science data with other communities to address the grand challenges of global sustainability

From virtual libraries to virtual laboratories; enabling integration of earth science data with other communities to address the grand challenges of global sustainability

Congres Geologique International, Resumes 34: 2615

In recent years limited compute capacity and seemingly insurmountable barriers in data access meant that the earth science community itself could barely run realistic predictive models and computer simulations on resource development and natural hazard predictions, let alone effectively integrate data from other relevant domains such as bioinformatics, hydro informatics, climate science, etc. Since 2007, through initiatives from the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation, Science Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE), some data portals have been built including AuScope (earth sciences), Australian Oceans Data Network (AODN, marine) and Atlas of Living Australia (ALA, bioinformatics). These communities have essentially built 'virtual libraries' of digital data that are mostly connecting distributed data repositories wherever possible, but in some case they will need to use centralised repositories. All have adopted international standards where relevant in building these networks for infrastructure, catalogues and data. Already it is possible to integrate some data from the individual networks to under take cross domain data analysis and integration. The next step is to build virtual laboratories that loosely couple the data libraries with libraries of online applications and allow connection to a variety of new online compute resources that are growing rapidly in capacity (including cloud, HPC, GPU). Where on the planet the data, compute and application resources are housed is irrelevant. Building these loosely coupled laboratories should facilitate the integration of earth science data with that of other science domains to enable to considered stewardship of the earth's environment and allow responsible development of its natural resources.

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