Data Heterogeneity, Data Fragmentation, and Standards Adoption in the Geosciences: Common Challenges and Opportunities

Data heterogeneity and fragmentation are pervasive and universal challenges. Geoscientists collect observations from many discrete but interacting elements within the Earth System (atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, biosphere, lithosphere), collected across spatiotemporal grains and extents. These data inform and constrain increasingly complex models of the Earth system and its subcomponents, which then serve to place newly collected data into context. The challenges of data heterogeneity and management have emerged as major barriers and bottlenecks, increasing “time to science” and reducing reproducibility. The EarthCube Use Case Working Group identified data access as the most critical identified barrier across proposed use cases, followed by management of heterogeneous data (Stocks et al. 2017).