Cloud-Based Computational Tools for Earth Science Applications

Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Anthony A Arendt, Geophysical Institute, Juneau, AK, United States, Rob Fatland, Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA, United States and Bill Howe, University of Washington Seattle Campus, Seattle, WA, United States
Earth scientists are increasingly required to think across disciplines and utilize a wide range of datasets in order to solve complex environmental challenges. Although significant progress has been made in distributing data, researchers must still invest heavily in developing computational tools to accommodate their specific domain. Here we document our development of lightweight computational data systems aimed at enabling rapid data distribution, analytics and problem solving tools for Earth science applications. Our goal is for these systems to be easily deployable, scalable and flexible to accommodate new research directions. As an example we describe “Ice2Ocean”, a software system aimed at predicting runoff from snow and ice in the Gulf of Alaska region. Our backend components include relational database software to handle tabular and vector datasets, Python tools (NumPy, pandas and xray) for rapid querying of gridded climate data, and an energy and mass balance hydrological simulation model (SnowModel). These components are hosted in a cloud environment for direct access across research teams, and can also be accessed via API web services using a REST interface. This API is a vital component of our system architecture, as it enables quick integration of our analytical tools across disciplines, and can be accessed by any existing data distribution centers. We will showcase several data integration and visualization examples to illustrate how our system has expanded our ability to conduct cross-disciplinary research.