Using an RDF Framework to Carry Metadata for Climate Datasets
Friday, April 27, 2007, 13:25pm
The standards underlying the Semantic Web -- Resource Description Framework (RDF) and Web Ontology Language (OWL) -- show great promise in addressing some of the basic problems in earth science metadata. They provide a framework for explicitly describing the data models implicit in programs that display and manipulate data. They also provide a framework where multiple metadata standards can be described. Most importantly, these data models and metadata standards can be interrelated, a key step in creating interoperability. As a exercise in understanding how this framework might be used, we have created an RDF expression of the datasets and some of the metadata in the IRI/LDEO Climate Data Library. This includes concepts like datasets, units, dependent variables, and independent variables. We have also created an RDF expression of a taxonomy that forms the basis of a earth data search interface. These concepts include location, time, quantity, author, and institution. A series of inference engines are then used to infer the connections between data-oriented concepts of the data library to the distinctly different conceptual framework of the data search.
We would also like to use this RDF framework to gather and operate on dataset metadata. The goal is to interoperate between metadata conventions that are attached to data as they travel in different formats and are processed by different software. One could also envision a processing framework that records the connections between processed data, their source data, and their processing filters that could be used both to reapply the processing and document the results.