Improving the Interoperability of Earth Observations

J. Horsburgh
David G. Tarboton, Utah State University


In the history of science, many significant advances have resulted from new measurements. Despite the growing volume and sophistication of scientific theorizing of the past several decades, the ultimate source of information in many scientific disciplines is field observations and measurements. What is emerging today is an era of new data collection in the context of larger scale hydrologic and environmental observatories and in response to calls from leaders in the scientific community for new observing systems (e.g., data networks, field observations, and field experiments) that recognize the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of earth processes. These new data collection efforts are focused on precisely representing earth environments with data and advancing our understanding of its functional behavior (both natural and built) in efforts to, as Kirchner (2006) puts it, “get the right answers for the right reasons,” referring to the fact that as conditions shift beyond our range of prior experience, improving our predictions for operational and management purposes may be completely dependent on our understanding of important processes.