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Award Abstract #1343802

EarthCube Building Blocks: A Broker Framework for Next Generation Geoscience (BCube)

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Initial Amendment Date: August 23, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: July 24, 2015
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Award Number: 1343802
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Eva E. Zanzerkia
GEO Directorate For Geosciences
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Start Date: September 15, 2013
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End Date: August 31, 2016 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $1,529,918.00
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Investigator(s): Siri Jodha Khalsa khalsa@colorado.edu (Principal Investigator)
Stefano Nativi (Co-Principal Investigator)
Ruth Duerr (Co-Principal Investigator)
Francoise Pearlman (Co-Principal Investigator)
Jay Pearlman (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of Colorado at Boulder
3100 Marine Street, Room 481
Boulder, CO 80303-1058 (303)492-6221
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NSF Program(s): EarthCube
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Program Reference Code(s): 7433
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Program Element Code(s): 8074


The grand challenges of geoscience require working across traditional disciplinary

boundaries. Scientists are being called upon to find, access, and use diverse and voluminous

data types that are described with semantics. The BCube project has put together a strong

team of geoscientists, cyberinfrastructure experts and social scientists to address these

interoperability challenges using a maturing Brokering Framework for discovery, access, semantics,

web crawling, workflows and enhanced user services. The first three have been explored for

geoscience and are mature enough to provide near term engagement of geoscientists in a test

bed environment. Crawling, workflow and services will be developed during the project. The

geoscientists, (including early career scientists) from the domains of hydrology, oceans, polar,

weather, will compile community needs and assess broker capabilities in an increasing complex series of user scenarios.

To address the cultural barriers, BCube includes social science and education in the project team. BCube engages five major

repositories (DataOne, OOI, USGS, NCAR/RAL, NSIDC) to test and demonstrate interconnections

with the Broker Framework, with extension to international repositories in the second year.

The broker discovery and access modules have two important and unique characteristics: a design

that builds interoperability without putting a burden upon either users or providers and an

interfaced web crawling capability to find new data, models and services. New capabilities

also come as the Broker translates cyberinfrastructure research in areas such as semantics

and workflow into a user-oriented capability for cross-discipline geoscience research. An

agile development process will support rapid adaptations to changing user needs. Since not

all needs can be anticipated, the Broker will also have APIs for scientists to write modules

for their own applications. BCube will look at the cultural issues in cross-discipline research

to improve acceptance and use of the broker. Both the technical and cultural broker attributes

will be exercised through user scenarios that start with individual geoscience research issues

and move to more complex cross-discipline research studies. This will develop reference cases

for metrics, monitoring and validating progress as the Broker Framework evolves and matures.

To address the grand challenges facing society, geoscientists need a sustainable and evolvable

cyberinfrastructure supporting cross-discipline research with powerful interoperability. Success

in addressing the project?s six diverse domains will demonstrate this and engender advancements

in the broader geosciences. The Broker module for web 2.0 will support use of crowd sourcing

and citizen science. BCube?s education analyses and early career scientists will consider

the best way to reach a new generation. Expansion to international data access will be demonstrated

through collaboration with the BCube?s international repository partners and a special interest

group of the international Research Data Alliance.


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Radcliffe, D.E., Reid, D.K., Blombäck, K., Bolster, C.H., Collick, A.S., Easton, Z.M., Francesconi, W., Fuka, D.R., Johnsson, H., King, K., Larsbo, M., Youssef, M.A., Mulkey, A.S., Nelson, N.O., Persson, K., Ramirez-Avila, J.J., Schmieder, F., Smith, D. R. "Applicability of models to predict phosphorus losses in drained fields: A review.," Journal of Environmental Quality, v.44, 2015, p. 614. 


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