SCIENCE

Learn more about EarthCube’s Science Successes and feel free to contact us to have your research featured here.
EarthChem and Tephra Workshop Teams Create Comprehensive FAIR-based Portal for Tephra Scientists
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Scientists often use tephra - ash, cinders and blocks from volcanic eruptions - to describe material explosively erupted from a volcano. However, the study of tephra deposits has long been challenged by a lack of standardization that frequently prevents comparison across geographic regions and between scientific disciplines and which has hindered integrated data archiving, sample documentation, discoverability, and access.

EarthCube-Funded Project Pythia Educates Geoscientists on the Popular Python Programming Language
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Python, a popular programming language, has been used as an invaluable programming tool since 1991. Packages such as Jupyter, NumPy, MatPlotLib and Pandas enhance the uses of Python. For example, NumPy makes it easier to use matrices and write math equations in Python and do matrix operations. Although these packages are very useful, many  beginners haven’t been educated about which ones to use or what to do with them and Project Pythia aims to change that. 

Oceanographer Uses Systems Argo and GO-SHIP to Track Ocean Temperature
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According to UC San Diego Assistant Professor of Physical Oceanography Sarah Purkey, over 90 percent of the total human-caused warming in the Earth system ends up in the ocean. 

 

“The common misconception that global warming only impacts the atmosphere  leads many to believe the issue is not as pressing as it really is,” said Purkey.  “In reality, the warming that we experience living in the troposphere is only the tip of the iceberg.  Most of the heat ends up in the ocean. This warming can impact ecosystems that are essential to the absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the ocean, dampening the ocean’s ability to take up carbon dioxide, just causing the cycle to go on and on.”

Comprehensive Ice Sheets Gateway “GHub” Helps Address Sea Level Rise
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Researchers at the University at Buffalo (UB) recently teamed with colleagues at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Tufts University to publish a special issue paper entitled Building a Glaciology Gateway to Unify a Community in the Concurrency and Computation journal. The journal article provides detailed information about the Glaciology Hub known as the GHub science gateway, which is powered by the HUBzero® Platform at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, located at UC San Diego.
“Sea level rise is a grave concern, making ice melt rates an important area of study,” said GHub Co-Principal Investigator (PI) Kristin Poinar, a geology professor at UB. “The Greenland Ice Sheet in particular is melting and calving ice at an alarming rate -- the equivalent of all of the water in Lake Erie every two years.  This has raised the global sea level by more than one centimeter over the past twenty years.”

EarthCube-Supported “ICEBERG” Team Paves Way for Novel Polar Geosciences Research Methods
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Human-led surveys of polar animals like penguins and seals are not only expensive, but often dangerous. Artificial intelligence (AI) techniques, using satellite imagery, has recently been studied as an alternate survey option by a group of EarthCube-supported geoscientists at Stony Brook University in New York. The researchers found that computers can learn to survey polar animals in a way similar to a human and their accuracy was promising for many types of similar surveys.

​Their most recent study, published in Remote Sensing of Environment, focused on training computers to search for Antarctic seals in satellite imagery. Their findings indicated that their AI-based survey method was more than ten times faster than an experienced human observer.

HydroShare Article Discusses FAIR Principles
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Hydrology researchers throughout the U.S. recently teamed to publish their study entitled Toward Open and Reproducible Environmental Modelling by Integrating Online Data Repositories, Computational Environments, and Model Application Programming Interfaces. Featured in the Environmental Modelling and Software journal, the article included details about HydroShare, a web-based platform for finding and sharing water-related data, funded in part through EarthCube.

EarthCube-Funded Team Makes Progress 
with Paleobiology Project Coined eODP
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For more than 50 years, research vessels have been collecting data from worldwide oceans - providing insight into both present and past ecosystems. While many repositories exist to house these data, it has proven challenging for some scientists to access pertinent information related to their specific research endeavors.
Andrew Fraass and his international team recently developed a unified database to help with this challenge. Fraass, principal investigator of EarthCube’s eODP (Extending Ocean Drilling Pursuits), has led the development of the project, which is a collaborative repository encompassing information from multiple sources - both large and small.

Qualitative Data from Citizen Scientists Enhances AMGeO’s Auroras Research
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In response to solar storms, electrons and ions are produced in the Earth’s magnetosphere that collide with the upper atmosphere’s oxygen and nitrogen. This collision causes a release of energy in the form of a magnificent glow of light - an aurora. Only visible in high-latitude regions, auroras have long been perceived as quite mysterious. One such aurora, seen near Alberta, Canada, as shown in the accompanying image, is called the Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (STEVE) and was discovered by a group of citizen scientists via their collaboration with the Aurorasaurus project. 

EarthCube-funded Astrophysicists Use AI for Ten Year Study Regarding our Sun
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Alexander Kosovichev, a physics professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), in collaboration with Egor Illarionov of Moscow University and Andrey Tlatov of the Kislovodsk Solar Station, has published results of their most recent EarthCube-funded solar corona research in The Astrophysical Journal. Entitled Machine-learning Approach to Identification of Coronal Holes in Solar Disk Images and Synoptic Maps, the study examined and analyzed solar synoptic maps for 2010 through 2020. Because these specialized maps encompassed a daily view at a specific time, for ten years, the calculations were completed using machine learning.

Ocean Protein Portal Updates METATRYP to Encompass COVID-19 Peptides Data
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EarthCube project researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution recently published their study findings related to SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus peptides in the Journal of Proteome Research. Specifically, the scientists discussed how SARS-CoV-2 has the most shared tryptic peptides with its closest bat precursor virus and while the COVID-19 strain has some shared peptides with SARS-CoV-1, it is very different from the “common influenza”.

EarthCube’s PBOT Enables Scientists and Educators Access to Paleobotany Data
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Detailed information about ancient vegetation has long been a mystery, and often when it is discovered, accessing the data is difficult - if even possible. However, a new EarthCube project team has recently begun development of a unique web client and database coined PBOT, short for Paleobotany Database, that aims to provide both scientists and educators easy access to a long awaited paleobotany database.

EarthCube Tool “Sparrow” Allows Geoscientists to Easily Share and Archive Data
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Primarily known as a diverse but recognizable family of birds that are friendly and able to naturally blend into human environments, “Sparrow” is quite fitting for the user-friendly tool being developed by EarthCube’s Geochronology project. “Sparrow” has specifically been developed to assist laboratories in managing their analytical data products while at the same time creating metadata and seamlessly exposing lab products to end-users and archival data facilities.

Graduate Students Contribute a Novel Open-Source Forecasting Verification Tool to the Pangeo Community
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Riley Brady, graduate student at University of Colorado at Boulder, and Aaron Spring, graduate student at the Max Planck Institute in Hamburg, Germany, recently collaborated to create an open-source python-based Pangeo library that allows worldwide researchers to easily analyze forecasts using weather and climate models. Coined “climpred” (climate prediction), the new tool has been developed in conjunction with EarthCube’s Pangeo community so that geoscientists can post-process, analyze, and visualize the results of climate prediction systems.

EarthCube Initiative Develops Tool to Study Greenland and its Melting Ice Sheet
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Greenland, the world’s largest island, has long been known as a sparsely populated, ice-capped home for polar bears, reindeer, and Arctic foxes. The Greenland Ice Sheet covers more than 80 percent of the island – stretching some 1500 miles long by 460 miles wide. However, conditions in Greenland are changing rapidly. According to NOAA’s Arctic Report Card, last year’s ice melt was similar to the alarming ice loss of 2012, and the ice sheet has lost ice every year for the last two decades.

EarthCube Project Creates Data Broker to Share Information about Novel Volcano in Tanzania
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Considered young in comparison to other volcanoes, Ol Doinyo Lengai has been viewed as a petrological mystery since its first recorded eruption in the late 1800s. While typical terrestrial magma consists of silicon and oxygen, Ol Doinyo Lengai erupts carbonatite magma. Monitoring this volcano’s inflation and deflation in real-time  has been one of the case-studies for the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded EarthCube project CHORDS (Cloud-Hosted Real-time Data Services for the Geosciences) for several years. Scientists from  Virginia Tech, Ardhi University in Tanzania, and the Korea Institute for Geosciences and Mineral Resources (KIGAM)  researchers set up the monitoring project to better understand the East African Rift and the hazards of the volcano.

NSF EarthCube-funded Scientists Release Planet Microbe
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Because 70 percent of Earth is comprised of oceans, their changes have a great impact on our entire planet. Many oceanographic changes often go unnoticed for years, decades, and sometimes centuries; however, slight variances in sea microbes (microscopic organisms) can provide researchers with tremendous insight to long-term change.

EarthCube’s StraboSpot Develops Digital Tools for Geosciences Educators
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In mid-March, EarthCube’s StraboSpot team realized that their summer field camps were unlikely to occur as the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The StraboSpot team organized the initial community-based response to best determine how to share resources to deal with the near-certainty of canceled field camps. By mid-April, the researchers had teamed with multiple other community members to offer a variety of virtual field experiences, including repackaging and utilizing StraboSpot for online learning.