Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

NSF Announces “Earth-Cube” Initiative

June 23rd, 2011 / in big science, research horizons, resources / by Erwin Gianchandani

NSF:  Dear Colleague Letter:  The "Earth Cube" -- Towards a National Data Infrastructure for Earth System ScienceIn a Dear Colleague Letter issued earlier this month, the NSF’s Directorate for Geosciences and Office of Cyberinfrastructure call for “an open, adaptable, and sustainable framework (an ‘Earth-Cube’) to enable transformative research and education in Earth System Science”:

In a new partnership, GEO and OCI recognize the multifaceted challenges of modern, data-intensive science and education and envision an environment where low adoption thresholds and new capabilities act together to greatly increase the productivity and capability of researchers and educators working at the frontiers of Earth system science.


With the new FY2012 NSF budget thrust, Cyberinfrastructure for the 21st century (CIF21), NSF places significant emphasis on computational and data-rich science and engineering, with the goal of providing a sustainable, community-based and open cyberinfrastructure for researchers and learners. This is a major challenge because the number and volume of data sets have grown to proportions well beyond the range of applicability of traditional data handling tools. Transformative approaches and innovative technologies are needed for heterogeneous data to be integrated, made interoperable, explored and re-purposed by researchers in disparate fields and for myriad uses across institutional, disciplinary, spatial and temporal boundaries


GEO continues to make substantial investments in collecting data through NSF-supported research facilities and projects, and in helping the geosciences community utilize data collected by other entities around the world. Similarly, OCI makes substantial investments in advanced high-performance computing, data infrastructure, software development, virtual organizations and networking. It is time to integrate these data and technologies … to enable transformative research and education in Earth System Science; foster common data models and data-focused methodologies; develop next generation search and data tools; and advance application software to integrate data from various sources and advance knowledge…

It’s clear from this description that any credible proposal will require a partnership involving significant computer science expertise. (Indeed, a recent series of CCC white papers describes how analytics approaches like data mining, machine learning, and predictive modeling, etc., are key to addressing our “big data” challenges, particularly in areas of national priority such as healthcare and sustainability.)

NSF has scheduled a series of webinars beginning on July 11 (click here to register) to dialogue with the community about the vision for the Earth-Cube system. Following the webinars will be “a charrette meeting to rapidly facilitate early stages of novel approaches for the system.”

To learn more, read the full DCL.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

NSF Announces “Earth-Cube” Initiative