Barriers and potential solutions for Critical Zone data integration between environmental genomics and the geosciences

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Emma L Aronson, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA, United States
The Earth's permeable near-surface layer from bedrock to canopy is referred to as the Critical Zone (CZ). Integration of bio- and geoscience data is critical for understanding physical, biological and chemical interactions in the CZ. Genomic and meta-genomic scientists study organisms both in laboratory settings and in the environment, in order to understand the interactions of organisms with the environment. Geoscientists are using environmental data to describe and model dynamics of physical and chemical properties. Yet, there is no agreed upon method for integrating genomic and environmental data to address interactions of living and non-living components of the CZ. There are standards for data interchange being developed in the geosciences and genomics sciences, via standards organization such as the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), as well as by research communities in biogeochemistry, hydrology, climatology, and other fields. These are in parallel to, but typically not in coordination with the standards the Genomics Standards Consortium (GSC) is developing for genomics. In addition, efforts are being made to allow for intercompatability of these CZ data with data generated by NEON, Inc. The interoperability of these types of data is limited with current software and cyberinfrastructure. A group of CZ geoscientists, environmental genomic scientists and cyberinfrastructure scientists are coming together to develop a set of common data collection and integration methods and sets of common standards. The data generated by this effort across multiple CZ sites (including the US CZ Observatories, or CZOs) around the world, along with NEON facility data, will be used to test EarthCube (an NSF initiative to develop cyberinfrastructure for the geosciences) cyberinfrastructure, with the goal of bridging this gap in standards and interoperability. Potential solutions to these issues of interoperability will be presented, and a way forward will be described.