Building the EarthCube GeoWS block: data discovery and access across multiple geoscience domains
The problem scope
It is common knowledge that researchers spend 80% – 90% of their time and effort finding and retrieving data and only 10% – 20% of their time actually using the data to answer science questions. The Geoscience Web Services (GeoWS) EarthCube Building Block will provide more uniform ways to discover, access, and use data from a variety of Earth science data centers. The GeoWS strategy is to promote the use of similar web services as methods of interacting with domain data centers, including solid earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences, that represent the largest sections of the National Science Foundation (NSF) GEO Directorate.
GeoWS services will provide a uniform interface to data by using similarly constructed URLs containing:
- a traditional directory structure
- standardized query parameters
The base URL for GeoWS compliant services at the IRIS DMC is
http://service.iris.edu/fdsnws. Specific services and versions can then be accessed at the URL
/<service-name>/<service-version>/. An example is the IRIS Event service, version 1 which is accessed at:
This URL can be followed by a series of parameters that provide constraints for the query. For timeseries data-related services this includes a
endtime in the ISO-8601 international standard format. Data is returned in
XML format by default, but GeoWS services also support easily understood (“human readable”) plain-text content.
The following URL represents a query resulting in a text listing of all events greater than magnitude 6.0 occurring in the last two months of 2014, ordered by time, using the IRIS Event service:
Other GeoWS partners have similar capabilities and are designed for easy “drop-in” to scripted languages such as Perl or Java, or command-line utilities like
Science Drivers and Governance
GeoWS data partners were selected to address a user scenario within geodynamics, augmented to illustrate that the concept could be extended to other disciplines supported by the NSF GEO Directorate. Two additional partners of GeoWS are have alternative sources of funding:
- other federal agencies (NGDC)
- non-US funding sources (WOVOdat)
GeoWS engages the community through a Science Advisory Committee who has many responsibilities, including testing the GeoWS capabilities when fully deployed.
Benefits to Scientists
The burden currently required to discover, access, and use data across multiple scientific domains will be significantly reduced. Additionally, GeoWS is working closely with two other EarthCube Building Block proposals:
- CINERGI Building Block – an EarthCube-wide registry of services
- BCube Building Block – a brokering capability and single-point-of-access portal for GeoWS data assets
The table below lists the data centers that comprise the GeoWS partnership.
|IEDA: Marine Geoscience Data System||Columbia University|
|Data Management Center||IRIS|
|Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI)||San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC)|
|Geodetic Data Center||UNAVCO|
|Unidata Atmospheric Sciences||UCAR|
Additionally GeoWS is directly implementing web services concepts at eight other locations:
|Data Center||Data Type(s)|
|National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)||Ecological|
|National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC)||Various geophysical|
|Ocean Observatory Initiative (OOI)||Oceanographic|
|World Organization of Volcano Observatories Database (WOVOdat)||Volcanological|
|Global Geodynamics Project (GGP)||Superconducting Gravimeter|
|Pan American Center for Earth and Environmental Studies (PACES)||Gravity and Magnetic|
|University of Kansas||Structural Geology|
GeoWS is also supporting the developer of RAMADDA to incorporate GeoWS web services into the RAMADDA system where, in theory, any data collection can be managed.
This project is funded by the National Science Foundation under the EarthCube initiative through grant ICER-1343709.
by Tim Ahern and Rob Newman (IRIS Data Management Center)