Sea Ice Characteristics and the Open-Linked Data World

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Siri-Jodha S Khalsa1, Deborah L McGuinness2, Ruth Duerr3, Peter L Pulsifer4, Peter Arthur Fox5, Cassidy Thompson1 and Rui Yan2, (1)University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, (2)Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, United States, (3)National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO, United States, (4)University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States, (5)Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst., Troy, NY, United States
The audience for sea ice data sets has broadened dramatically over the past several decades. Initially the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) sea ice products were used primarily by sea ice specialists. However, now they are in demand by researchers in many different domains and some are used by the public. This growth in the number and type of users has presented challenges to content providers aimed particularly at supporting interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary data use.

In our experience, it is generally insufficient to simply make the data available as originally formatted. New audiences typically need data in different forms; forms that meet their needs, that work with their specific tools. Moreover, simple data reformatting is rarely enough. The data needs to be aggregated, transformed or otherwise converted into forms that better serve the needs of the new audience.

The Semantic Sea Ice Interoperability Initiative (SSIII) is an NSF-funded research project aimed at making sea ice data more useful to more people using semantic technologies. The team includes domain and science data experts as well as knowledge representation and linked data experts. Beginning with a series of workshops involving members of the operations, sea ice research and modeling communities, as well as members of local communities in Alaska, a suite of ontologies describing the physical characteristics of sea ice have been developed and used to provide one of NSIDC’s data sets, the operational Arctic sea ice charts obtained from the Canadian Ice Center, as open-linked data. These data extend nearly a decade into the past and can now be queried either directly through a publicly available SPARQL end point (for those who are familiar with open-linked data) or through a simple Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards map-based query tool. Questions like “What were the characteristics (i.e., sea ice concentration, form and stage of development) of the sea ice in the region surrounding my ship/polar bear on date X?” can now be answered.

This service may be of interest within the broad polar community – especially those who already are familiar with either open-linked data or OGC services. We seek feedback, collaborators, and users.