Earth Science Informatics
Tracking Provenance of Earth Science Data
November 30, 2010
Tremendous volumes of data have been captured, archived and analyzed. Sensors, algorithms and processing systems for transforming and analyzing the data are evolving over time. Web Portals and Services can create transient data sets on-demand. Data are transferred from organization to organization with additional transformations at every stage. Provenance in this context refers to the source of data and a record of the process that led to its current state. It encompasses the documentation of a variety of artifacts related to particular data. Provenance is important for understanding and using scientific datasets, and critical for independent confirmation of scientific results. Managing provenance throughout scientific data processing has gained interest lately and there are a variety of approaches. Large scale scientific datasets consisting of thousands to millions of individual data files and processes offer particular challenges. This paper uses the analogy of art history provenance to explore some of the concerns of applying provenance tracking to earth science data. It also illustrates some of the provenance issues with examples drawn from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) Data Processing System (OMIDAPS) run at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center by the first author.
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