2018 AHM Preview: Development for Science-Driven Outcomes

Ryan Abernathey, from the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

Since its beginning in 2011, EarthCube’s mission has been focused on science-driven outcomes; supporting scientists in doing their research in new and innovative ways that will ultimately transform the face of geoscience. EarthCube has undergone substantial shifts and growing pains in that time, and now that cybertools are maturing enough to be more widely used, focus is shifting to exactly how it has influenced and benefited scientific research.

A focus on science driven outcomes

During the EarthCube Science Supported Outcomes panel session at the AHM next month, attendees will participate in guided discussions of “lessons learned” with regard to science-driven technology development, as well as tips on how to organize science and technology collaborations. The panel boasts an exciting roster of leaders from a variety of domains discussing their EarthCube projects as case studies. Among them is climate scientist Ryan Abernathey, who will give an overview of his 2017 project, Pangeo: An Open Source Big Data Climate Science Platform.

A project born from technological need

Pangeo was born from the climate science community’s need for data analysis tools that can handle their growing datasets. Abernathey will discuss Pangeo’s purpose: to integrate models and databases into a grand, organized, useable platform. He is most excited to demonstrate how to interactively analyze and visualize many terabytes of climate data in the cloud in a few minutes using Pangeo software and infrastructure. This includes explaining its various software parts, the thinking behind its language.

People are part of the puzzle too

But the technological side is only part of the puzzle. Abernathey credits Pangeo’s people, both those who create and contribute to Pangeo, and those who are already benefiting from it, with its early success. Many of these are unfunded collaborators from around the world who have emerged to participate in the project. He said, “It is a testament to the power of the open source ecosystem in providing reusable building blocks for developing new systems.” As an open-source project, it unites people from all diverse backgrounds to help build it, and it also stays true to the needs of the community invested in it.

Gaining traction right out of the gate

The progress made during the first six months of the project has surpassed Abernathey’s expectations. Attendees of this session will participate in a discussion to understand the science-driven nature of the project, and also contribute to ideas of how this new endeavor may function moving forward. Most importantly, what Abernathey most wants participants to walk away with is a better idea of how Pangeo offers a path forward for geoscientists overwhelmed by big data. As he says, “the future is in the cloud!”


  • Gesper Gjerloev, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (moderator)
  • D. Sarah Stamps, Virginia Tech
  • Mark D. Uhen, George Mason University
  • Ryan Abernathey, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University
  • Elisha Wood-Charlson, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Register for the All Hands Meeting

The 2018 All Hands Meeting is just around the corner! This year’s theme, “Platform for Integration” addresses a wide variety of topics, from hands-on demo of the P418 pilot project on EarthCube-related use cases, to audience engagement. Space is filling up so reserve your spot today!

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