ESDS Program

Earth, Life and Semantic Web (ELSeWeb): An Earth observation-driven, Semantic Web system for computational modeling of the impact of changing climate on ecosystems and human/environmental health system

Principal Investigator (PI): Deanna Pennington, University of Texas at El Paso

The Earth, Life and Semantic Web (ELSeWeb) project will integrate the NASA-funded Earth Data Analysis Center (EDAC) with an analytical Web Service platform, Lifemapper, which models potential future species distributions under scenarios of climate change. The integrated system will provide climate change impact scientists streamlined mechanisms for discovering, accessing, understanding, and using Earth observation data, integrating those data into environmental models, particularly in the context of environmental impacts on human health and disease. It will enable them to conduct more complex, more realistic computational experiments (IF-THEN-ELSE models) that include multiple parameterizations of changing environments in addition to changing climates. The integrated system will take advantage of Web Service and Semantic Web technologies, enabling users to visualize a trace of all of the components and parameters that contributed to the model output, and to share resources and collaborate around these.

Both EDAC and Lifemapper will be instrumented to automatically collect semantic provenance data as analyses are conducted. Provenance is a trace of all of the inputs and actions that lead up to a derived model product. Additionally, the Semantic Web approach used to generate provenance will also enable automatic mapping of source data selections to transformation algorithms needed to meet the requirements of Lifemapper. With provenance, users will be able to access and visualize information regarding original Earth data sources; processing and analyses conducted on those data at EDAC; algorithm selection made by the user; model parameters set by the user; and processing conducted within Lifemapper. Relevant provenance information will be automatically captured along with Lifemapper’s generation of models, minimizing the need for manually input metadata.

The ELSeWeb platform will enable modeling of climate change impacts on animal and plant species using Earth observation and climate change data, through the integration of these independently successful initiatives. This, in turn, will enable highly innovative new modeling of complex factors associated with biotic change such as health and infectious disease, that depend not only on climate change and species distributions, but also on other human/environmental interactions. Provenance generation capabilities of ELSeWeb services will enable modelers to experiment with many potential future scenarios of human/environmental system, while tracking each computational experiment such that analysts of model output will understand the data, model and parameter choices that were made. These unique capabilities will transform scientists’ ability to collaboratively investigate the implications of different climate change scenarios for a wide variety of human/environmental systems, particularly as they relate to the nexus of environmental factors in human health and infectious disease.

Deployed at EDAC.

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