Building web service interfaces to geoscience data sets: EarthCube GeoWS project activities at the IRIS DMC

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Chad M Trabant, Timothy Keith Ahern and Mike Stults, Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, Seattle, WA, United States
At the IRIS Data Management Center (DMC) we have been developing web service data access interfaces for our, primarily seismological, repositories for five years. These interfaces have become the primary access mechanisms for all data extraction from the DMC. For the last two years the DMC has been a principal participant in the GeoWS project, which aims to develop common web service interfaces for data access across hydrology, geodesy, seismology, marine geophysics, atmospheric and other geoscience disciplines. By extending our approach we have converged, along with other project members, on a web service interface and presentation design appropriate for geoscience and other data. The key principles of the approach include using a simple subset of RESTful concepts, common calling conventions whenever possible, a common tabular text data set convention, human-readable documentation and tools to help scientific end users learn how to use the interfaces. The common tabular text format, called GeoCSV, has been incorporated into the DMC’s seismic station and event (earthquake) services. In addition to modifying our existing services, we have developed prototype GeoCSV web services for data sets managed by external (unfunded) collaborators. These prototype services include interfaces for data sets at NGDC/NCEI (water level tides and meteorological satellite measurements), INTERMAGNET repository and UTEP gravity and magnetic measurements. In progress are interfaces for WOVOdat (volcano observatory measurements), NEON (ecological observatory measurements) and more. An important goal of our work is to build interfaces usable by non-technologist end users. We find direct usability by researchers to be a major factor in cross-discipline data use, which itself is a key to solving complex research questions. In addition to data discovery and collection by end users, these interfaces provide a foundation upon which federated data access and brokering systems are already being built.

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