Normalizing paleoclimate variables in support of data-intensive science
Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Paleoclimate data are extremely heterogeneous – hundreds of different types of measurements and reconstructions are routinely made by scientists on an even larger number of kinds of physical samples. This heterogeneity is one of the biggest barriers to the development of accumulated data products and access capabilities, and to the use of paleo data beyond the community of paleoclimate specialists. We describe a new effort underway at the World Data Service for Paleoclimatology to create a set of standards for documenting variables (i.e., exactly what was measured or reconstructed). The nine-part variable description the WDS-Paleo uses currently is the starting point for this project, which will result in vocabularies that are complete, precise, standard, and extensible. This framework was designed to be general enough for use with all of the eighteen different proxy and reconstruction data types archived by the WDS-Paleo, thus allowing more uniformity to be applied to its holdings and allowing metadata to be stored and searched across proxy types in a single database structure. Ongoing work will extend this generalized variable framework, under the guidance of advisory panels consisting of subject matter experts, to generate proxy-specific and cross-proxy controlled vocabularies. This work will enable re-use of studies in larger compilations to enable scientific discovery that would not be possible from any one study alone, and will facilitate new, interdisciplinary uses for datasets.