Collaborative Research: SI2-SSI: The community-driven BiG CZ software system for integration and analysis of bio- and geoscience data in the critical zone

Lead PI: Dr. Kerstin A. Lehnert

Unit Affiliation: Marine and Polar Geophysics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

December 2013 - November 2017
North America ; Pennsylvania
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: The Critical Zone (CZ) science community takes as its charge the effort to integrate theory, models and data from the multitude of disciplines collectively studying processes on the Earth's surface. The Critical Zone is Earth's permeable near-surface layer - from the atmosphere at the vegetation's canopy to the lower boundary of actively circulating groundwaters. The Critical Zone was a term coined by the National Research Council's Basic Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences (BROES) Report (2001) to highlight the imperative for a new approach to thoroughly multi-disciplinary research on the zone of the Earth?s surface that is critical to sustaining terrestrial life on our planet. In January 2013, 103 members of the CZ community met for the CZ-EarthCube Domain Workshop (NSF Award #1252238) to prioritize the CZ community's key science drivers, key computational and information technology ("cyber") challenges and key cyber needs. They identified that the central scientific challenge of the critical zone science community is to develop a "grand unifying theory" of the critical zone through a theory-model-data fusion approach. Work participants unanimously described that the key missing need of this approach was a future cyberinfrastructure for seamless 4D visual exploration of the integrated knowledge (data, model outputs and interpolations) from all the bio and geoscience disciplines relevant to critical zone structure and function, similar to today's ability to easily explore historical satellite imagery and photographs of the earth's surface using Google Earth. This project takes the first "BiG" steps toward answering that need.


Stroud Water Research Center


National Science Foundation




bioscience big data map-based discovery geoscience critical zone


Earth fundamentals