GEON Newsletter : July 2006
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Beijing CI Workshop

The International Workshop on Cyberinfrastructure for Geosciences was held at the Fragrant Hill Hotel, Beijing, China from July 20-23. The workshop was sponsored locally by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), China Metreological Administration (CMA), China Earthquake Administration (CEA), and Silicon Graphics. Travel support for US participants was provided by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). The workshop was a joint effort between GEON and PRAGMA (www.pragma-grid.net). The US Organizing Committee consisted of Prof. Mian Liu (Chair), University of Missouri/GEON, Dr. Peter Arzberger, UCSD/PRAGMA, and Dr. Chaitanya Baru, SDSC/GEON. The Chinese Organizing Committee consisted of Dr. Yaolin Shi (Chair), Director, and Dr. Huai Zhang (Secretary) both from the Laboratory of Computational Geodynamics,and Dr. Baopin Yan, Director, Chinese Network Information Center (CNIC).

Workshop attendees included representatives from various Chinese geosciences agencies, faculty and students from the Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Science (GUCAS), members of some of the US geoinformatics projects (e.g. GEON, CUAHSI HIS, UNAVCO, IRIS, CIG), PRAGMA members from China (Dr. Kai Nan, CNIC), Japan (Dr. Satoshi Sekiguchi, AIST), and USA (Ms. Cindy Zheng, UCSD), and a few representatives from Australian universities.

The workshop began with an evening reception on Thursday, July 20th followed by presentations by workshope invitees on Friday and Saturday, July 21-22. Please see the workshop website for details. The last session on Saturday was a general group discussion about the role and benefits of cyberinfrastructure, and about next steps in developing cyberinfrastructure for geosciences in China.

The meeting outcomes included a decision by the Laboratory of Computational Geodynamics, Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (GUCAS) to deploy a GEON cluster at their location; decision by CNIC to deploy one of its systems as a GEON PoP node, focusing on serving datasets from China. In addition, the workshop also identified potential for concrete interactions in the area of hydrology and the Hydrologic Information System (HIS) and in the Computer Science-related areas of collaboration systems and use of ontologies in science. It is expected that these areas will become focal points as we continue future interactions. In particular, the PRAGMA project has identified geosciences as a strategic applications area. Therefore, it is expected that some of the future geosciences workshops will be colocated with PRAGMA meetings.

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iGEON India Funded

A proposal entitled “iGEON-India: International GEON, India: A Knowledge R&D Networked Indo-US Centre,” submitted to the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum, New Delhi, India, has been approved for funding. The objective of this proposal is “the formation of a knowledge R&D networked Indo-US Center called, International GEON—India (iGEON-India), as an extension of the GEON (Geosciences Network) project that has been established in the US, under funding from the US National Science Foundation.”

The iGEON-India activities will be coordinated in India via the University of Hyderabad, in particular the Center for Earth and Space Sciences (CESS) and the Center for Modeling, Simulation, and Design (CMSD). Project activities will include establishment of a GEON node at the University of Hyderabad, to serve as the GEON entry point for accessing datasets and tools hosted by the Indian geosciences community participating in GEON. A major activity will be an annual GEON workshop to train geoscientists in the latest advances in geoinformatics. Indeed, the first such workshop, GEON 2005, was conducted on October 24-27 at the University of Hyderabad (see related article in the October 2006 GEON Newsletter). This new grant will help foster close collaborations between the iGEON India effort and the GEON project in US via exchange visits between India and US by researchers and postdoctoral fellows. The PIs for this proposal are Prof. K. V. Subbarao, Professor-in-Charge, CESS and Prof. Arun Agarwal, Head, Department of Computer Science and Professor-in-Charge, CMSD, University of Hyderabad, and Dr. Chaitanya Baru, Project Director, GEON and Director, Science R&D, San Diego Supercomputer Center. The co-PIs are Prof. Randy Keller, University of Oklahoma and Prof. Mark Gahegan, Pennsylvania State University from the US, and Prof. G. V. R. Prasad, University of Jammu, and Prof. Vishwas Kale and Prof. N. J. Powar, University of Pune, from India.

In addition to the University of Hyderabad, the city of Hyderabad is also home to a number of national geosciences institutions including the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), Geological Survey of India (GSI), Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), Atomic Minerals Directorate, and the Indian National Center for Ocean Information Science (INCOIS). Equally important, Hyderabad has emerged as a IT hub and one of the vibrant “Knowledge Parks” in India, driven by well-trained scientific personnel.

This collaboration was catalyzed by a pre-existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the University of Hyderabad and the San Diego Supercomputer Center, University of California, San Diego, signed in 2002. Indeed, the University of Hyderabad already collaborates with the University of California, San Diego via the PRAGMA project (Pacific Rim Applications and Grid Middleware Assembly, www.pragma-grid.net), which is also funded by the NSF. University of Hyderabad is a founding member of PRAGMA and Prof. Arun Agarwal is the UofHyd PI for PRAGMA. Indeed, the collaboration between GEON and PRAGMA has catalyzed not only the iGEON activity in India, but also in Japan and China (see above article).

The announcement about the funding of this project was made by Dr. Arabinda Mitra, Executive Director of the Indo-US Science and Technology forum (www.indousstf.org), during his presentation at the US-India Summit on Education, Research, and Technology, hosted by Calit2 at UC San Diego (http://us-india.calit2.net/).

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LiDAR Work Featured in Science Grid This Week

Work being done by Christopher Crosby (GEON Graduate Research Assistant, Arizona State) and Prof. Ramon Arrowsmith (GEON PI, ASU), in collaboration with the San Diego Supercomputer Center, was featured in the July 19th edition of Science Grid This Week. This article, "Journey to the Surface of the Earth", describes and explains the proof-of-concept version of a system that this team has developed to provide scientists interactive access to four LiDAR data sets. Using a Web portal, scientists can choose their datasets, DEM algorithm, and processing parameters, and then launch the processing of the data using the GEON LiDAR Workflow. Each of the billions of LiDAR data points is stored in a database on the DataStar machine at SDSC. The workflow extracts the user's data, bundles it with the processing parameters and sends the request for computation to a GEON cluster at ASU.

Four LiDAR data sets are currently accessible via the GEON portal (portal.geongrid.org), and over 100 researchers have already signed up. Crosby, a student in geomorphology, has started using the portal to study how erosion and tectonic forces shape the landscape.

The full article can be found online at http://www.interactions.org/sgtw/2006/0719/lidar_more.html

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Release of New Version of the GEON Portal

A new version of the GEON portal, containing a number of recently added features, has been released and is available for use via the GEON website (www.geongrid.org). This version incorporates new functionality, including a “simple GEON search” feature, as well as an “advanced search” (previously referred to as the “GEONSearch”. The portal front page now highlights portal usage statistics and new datasets. Other new features include:

  • Simple registration of NetCDF files along with metadata
  • Support for multiple versions of registered resources
  • A new portlet in the GEON Tools section that provides access to a Paleobiogeography database, which is part of the GEON Paleo Integration Project (see newsletter article)
  • A moderated discussion forum for commenting on registered Ontologies.
  • Availability of a “guest” account for first time users, who may not wish to obtain an account for themselves

A number of the changes incorporate feedback received from the Usability workshop organized by PI Dogan Seber (SDSC) in May 2006 (see related newsletter article). Please take the time to visit, utilize, and comment on the new GEON portal.

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NSF This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0225673 (GEON). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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