As research in the Earth and environmental sciences evolves to become more data-intensive, the ability to discover, integrate and analyze massive amounts of heterogeneous scientific information has become critical to enabling researchers to address complex questions about the environment and our role within it. DataONE, the Data Observation Network for Earth, today (July 23) released technology capable of providing researchers access to globally distributed, networked data from a single point of discovery. 

The rapidly increasing volume of environmental and Earth science data — from historic observational field notes to modern satellite imagery, to actively updated remote sensor readings — is challenging scientists to locate and integrate pertinent data in a manner that addresses important questions for science and society. How is the spread of invasive species affected by patterns of land use? What factors predict the distribution of emergent infectious diseases, and what are the associated health risks? Are climate models sufficiently predictive? DataONE addresses these needs by providing a single search interface that federates globally distributed data centers. These centers individually store and manage important digital scientific data holdings, and DataONE now helps these centers preserve the holdings, while enabling scientists around the world to discover and add their own data to them for long-term use and sharing. Research enabled by this widespread access to data will range from illuminating fundamental ecological processes to identifying environmental problems and potential solutions.

“Science is entering a new era of data-intensive research,” said William Michener, DataONE principal investigator at the University of New Mexico. “DataONE has been built to support scientists in discovering and preserving data and, most importantly, in enabling new scientific discoveries. DataONE is critically needed now to broaden the nature of, and increase the pace of, science as researchers tackle the grand challenges facing science and society.”

DataONE provides users a suite of tools and training materials that cover all aspects of the research data life cycle, from data collection to management, to analysis and publication. 

DataONE offers searchable access to data held by South Africa National Parks, the Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity, the Ecological Society of America, Dryad, Oak Ridge National Laboratories Distributed Active Archive Center, the United States Geological Survey, the Long Term Ecological Research Network, the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans and the California Digital Library (CDL).  The CDL, through its University of California Curation Center (UC3), has supported the long-term preservation of the university’s digital assets for over 10 years. While originally focused on the management of cultural heritage materials contributed by campus libraries, archives, and museums, UC3 has seen increasing demands for its preservation services by the social and physical science communities. 

“We view DataONE as the continuation of our longstanding mission to protect and disseminate the university’s scholarly outputs into the scientific disciplines,” said Patricia Cruse, UC3 director. “It complements and augments a number of other important UC3 initiatives in the preservation area.”

More organizations are joining DataONE to make their data accessible. The Earth Data Analysis Center (EDAC) at the University of New Mexico is “an enthusiastic contributing member of the growing DataONE network,” said Karl Benedict, center director. “For nearly 50 years, EDAC has focused on delivering Earth science and other geospatial data and information to diverse end user communities. Participation in the DataONE network provides us with a great opportunity to extend the impact of our data holdings.”  

DataONE is a community-driven organization and the DataONE Users Group provides the opportunity for funders, users, developers, educators, and any other stakeholders to gather and contribute to DataONE products and services. Within, DataONE, experts from library, computer, and environmental sciences can bridge these worlds and provide an infrastructure to serve science for many decades to come.

Another member node soon to be added by CDL and UNM is ONEShare, a special-purpose repository that will accept spreadsheet data from researchers who do not have an explicit affiliation with another existing member node.

“Right now researchers have a hard time even finding the right data to answer complex environmental questions, and when they do, the work necessary to integrate really different types of data can be overwhelming,” said Stephanie Hampton, deputy director of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at UC Santa Barbara. “DataONE provides the type of platform we need to propel environmental science into the digital age.”

About DataONE: DataONE is the foundation of new innovative environmental science through a distributed framework and sustainable cyberinfrastructure that meets the needs of science and society for open, persistent, robust, and secure access to well-described and easily discovered Earth observational data. DataONE represents a collaboration of universities and government agencies coalesced to address the mounting need for organizing and serving up vast amounts of highly diverse and inter-related but often heterogeneous, scientific data. It is supported by a $20 million award made as part of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) DataNet program (Grant #OCI-0830944). DataONE features coordination nodes at the University of New Mexico, UC Santa Barbara and University of Tennessee, and member nodes including the California Digital Library,

About the UC Curation Center and the California Digital Library:
The UC Curation Center (UC3) of the California Digital Library (CDL) was established in 2009. UC3 is a central preservation and curation service provider addressing the systemwide needs of the 10 campuses of the University of California, one of the pre-eminent public universities of the world. The California Digital Library provides digital library development and support for the University of California libraries and the communities they serve. For further information contact Patricia Cruse, director, UC Curation Center, at patricia.cruse@ucop.edu or (510) 987-9016.

See also version in the UC Newsroom.