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integrating environmental and social data
Integrating Environmentaland Social Data -

mechanisms for meeting challenges to providing access to scientific data

Workshop on Strategies for Permanent Access to Scientific Information in Latin America: Focus on Health and Environmental Information for Sustainable DevelopmentAtibaia, SP, Brazil

Marjorie McGuirkNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Climatic Data Center Asheville, North Carolina, USA


As a global Earth Observation System revolutionizes our understanding of the Earth and how it works, the challenge is to connect the scientific dots; build a system of systems that will yield the science on which sound policy must be built, for the benefit of society everywhere.

Group on Earth Observations System of Systems – GEOSS

What are the current challenges and barriers to providing open and permanent access to scientific data and information?
  • Important societal issues require data from many disciplines and data systems
  • Daunting challenges of vastly increasing data volumes
    • Data exchange is power intensive – the creation, storage and movement of 10 megabytes of data uses nearly a kilogram of coal
    • As more data are exchanged on-line, bandwidth limitations and distance matters more – faster to move a petabyte around the world on a ship than on-line
    • Ownership protection become more problematic for data providers as well as data recipients
  • Interdisciplinary Language problems and pertinent data on different time and space scales (e.g., health)
      • Epidemiological data on episode basis, vs. climate on routine cycle in fixed locations
      • Health data collected, stored by individual institutes – varied standards and content
      • Privacy issues with health data; funding issues with climate data
  • Incompatible formats between science disciplines - thousands –(e.g., environmental data)
    • Naming standards – Surface Air Temperature
      • Meteorology (WMO) named “Temperature/dry bulb temperature
      • Meteorology (air pollution) named “Boundary layer temperature”
      • Oceanography named “Air Temperature”
    • Location standards (latitude, longitude, elevation)
      • Lat/Lon can be degrees/minutes/seconds or degrees to tenths and hundredths
      • Latitude E/W, 0-180 positive and negative, or 0-360 running east or west
      • Z used to designate elevation in both atmosphere and ocean but positive is up in the atmosphere and down in the ocean
    • Formats (>50 formats used within NOAA; translators and standards needed)
      • GRIB, NetCDF, HDF and others used for gridded data
      • BUFR, NetCDF, and many others used for observations

What are the current challenges and barriers to providing open and permanent access to scientific data and information?


Example Problem:Coastal Inundation & Erosion involves environmental and social data systems

What are some of the most promising existing mechanisms for providing access to scientific data and information?
  • Group on Earth Observation System of Systems
    • Cooperative programs enhance access and ensure data and products of enduring value are preserved for future generations
    • GEO – Integrated Data Environment is a key component of integration of environmental and interdisciplinary scientific data
  • Promising existing models
    • Using geographic information systems
    • Using common syntax
    • Using GEO NET-CAST
    • Several examples
  • International cooperative programs
    • World Meteorological Organization Resolutions #40 and #25 ensures open access to data for global exchange
    • International cooperative activities provides means of data exchange
most promising and existing models
Most Promising and existing models
    • near term opportunities
    • Drought, coastal inundation and flooding, storms, air quality
    • GEO-IDE

Coordinated development

GEO Architecture Subgroup

  • Brazil, France, Japan, United States, WMO, ESA

GEO Capacity Building Subgroup

  • Argentina, Belize/CCAD, Brazil, Israel, Republic of Congo, United States

GEO Data Utilization Subgroup

  • Brazil, Canada, United States, ECMWF

GEO User Requirements Subgroup

  • Canada, Italy, United Kingdom

GEO International Cooperation Subgroup

  • Australia, United States, IOC



Global Earth Observation Integrated Data Environment

(GEO-IDE) A key mechanism for providing access to scientific data and information

Based upon standards

Data (e.g. CF, FGDC, SO, SQL)

Access (e.g., OGC, http)

Transport (OPeNDAP, HTTP, FTP)

Metadata standards (ISO 19115 with remote sensing extensions)

Standard formats for delivery of data products (WMO, NetCDF, HDF, GeoTIF, JPEG)

Based on “Web Services”


Environmental data – terrain, rainfall and river level integrated and displayed graphically with social data – roads, buildings, infrastructure, population – allows scenario generation, communication of potential hazards (as in the flood example here).


Existing Model –Storms and Population example

  • Integrate Environmental and Social Data
    • Develop Climate Inventories of Storms
    • Compare Storm Distribution to populations at Risk
    • Improve Disaster Assessment & Response
  • Using NOAA’s radar data & 2000
  • US Census data, determine who was affected by heavy rainfall during Hurricane Charley. NOAA and UNC - Asheville

Areas with 4 inches of rain impacted

554,246 Families

798,348 Households

908,155 House Units

2,098,223 People

example project in uruguay
Example project in Uruguay

NOAA & the Uruguayan Meteorological Service enter cooperative project on data rescue.The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) donated digital equipment used for the project.

Images received from the Uruguayan Meteorological Service and the Uruguayan Navy Include: 42,000 + images through February 2006

This includes 6 synoptic stations with observations early as the 1930’s and as recent as early 2004.

NCDC is developing a keying format and keying should begin by Summer 2006.

Total imaging/keying for this multi-year project involves data from over 30+ stations totaling nearly 1,000,000 records


Identify one or more potential cooperative activities in Latin America for subsequent discussion for providing access to scientific data and information

  • Shared satellite product development
  • South AmericaDrought Monitoring
    • Data digitizing
    • Analysis
    • Product development
    • Using GEO Net-Cast

Ulisses E.C. Confalonieri, MD; DVM; DSc


April 2007

NOAA's GOES-10 satellite repositioned over South America

Potential Additional Activity

Shared development of Satellite Data Products –- using Earth observations and strengthening data networks advances GEOSS partnerships with countries and scientific organizations in the Western Hemisphere, including Argentina, Brazil, Belize, Canada, Chile, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay and the United States

Gilberto Câmara, Ph.D., director of Brazil's National Space Research Institute (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais). Retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator


Physical Science & Socioeconomic Research


Risk Reduction Research



Monitor and Predict



NIDIS Operations

Make Decisions & Take Action

Potential Additional ActivitiesA National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)

  • Goals & Objectives - Implement an integrated drought
  • monitoring & forecasting system (implementar um sistema nacional de monitorização e forecasting para secas)
  • Create drought early warning system

(Criar um sistema de alerta para secas)

  • Provide interactive delivery systems via web (Fornecer sistemas interactivos de entrega atravês da web)
  • Provide education of drought impacts and why drought occurs (Fornecer educação sobre os impactes de secas e explicar porque razão as secas ocorrem)
  • Improved predictive capabilities (Melhorar as capacidades de previsão)
  • Includes information for drought mitigation (Inclui informação para mitigar os efeitos da seca)

NIDIS an early opportunity for USGEO (

potential additional international projects
Potential Additional International Projects
  • Foreign Climate Data Imaging by NOAA’s Central Library- Project goal of the project is to preserve and disseminate unique climatological data from historical sources.
  • Period of record covers 1830s through the 1970s with most data from the period prior to 1960. Each series typically includes observations for a number of meteorological and other geophysical parameters.

Involves documents from over 14 countries in Africa, 8 in Asia, 6 in Europe, 10 in North America, 1 Pacific Island and 8 in South America.

challenges and promising models access to scientific data
Challenges and promising models – access to scientific data

Important societal issues often require:

Data/Observations from a variety of observing systems

Management of these data

Analysis of these data

  • Applied Research
  • Paleoclimate
  • Detecting/attribution
  • Decision support tools / assessments

XIV Brazilian Meteorological Congress 27 November 2006, John J Bates, NOAA