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Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: EarthCube | Award Amount: 386.88K | Year: 2014

Data, information, ideas, and technologies diffuse through social and organizational networks, if the impediments to their adoption are low and the benefits of new approaches are clear. This project brings together the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), UNAVCO, and Cornell University to understand how to improve the processes of collaboration and resource sharing in the geosciences by demonstrating and encouraging the adoption of structured information systems rooted in common standards. Using two large geoscience research programs as case studies, this effort will demonstrate how semantic web and linked data technology can play an essential role in the coordination and organization of scientific virtual organizations and their products, thereby accelerating the pace of scientific discovery and innovation.

The researchers will use a well-developed open source web application as an integrating data layer to expose the informational relationships and organizational collaborations within the case studies. This project will be an exemplar of using linked data to support virtual organizations in the geosciences. These efforts will feed into new tools that leverage linked data to support information and data exchange, and will produce recommendations on engaging user communities in linked data projects. This project will provide insight into how the geosciences can leverage linked data to produce more coherent methods of information and data discovery for large multi-disciplinary projects and virtual organizations. They will use the open source VIVO software application to illustrate how linked data can transform scientific project communication and dissemination via front end discovery based on rich networked metadata. The VIVO platform provides new capabilities for researchers and educators to use structured, interpretable data, permitting direct interlinking of information and data across platforms and projects. The project will structure data into an ontology-based, standard data format (RDF) for re-use, leveraging web identifier and vocabulary structures that have been well developed and widely adopted in the geoscience and cyberinfrastructure communities.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ANTARCTIC INSTRUM & SUPPORT | Award Amount: 30.00K | Year: 2016


Title: Community Workshop: Scientific Drivers and Future of a Mount Erebus Volcano Observatory (MEVO)

Non-technical Summary

This workshop will support members of the volcano science community familiar with Mt. Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica, those working on active or ancient volcanic systems, and those that have coordinated and developed volcano observatories at locations other than Mount Erebus. The goal of the workshop is for the scientific community to articulate a plan and their priorities for scientific infrastructure, facilities support, and scientific observations on Mt. Erebus.

Technical Description

Mount Erebus is a large volume, persistently active, open-system volcano, with a summit crater 500 m in diameter, rising to 3794 m above sea level. Conditions at the summit and the upper part of the volcano are among the harshest environments on Earth. The volcanic edifice of Erebus is geographically central and forms the backbone of Ross Island and the summit of Erebus is located 40 km from McMurdo Station. The workshop will review: 1) What have has been learned to date from geophysical, geochemical, biological and other observations at Mount Erebus?; 2) What specific and unique scientific questions can be addressed by additional observations at Mount Erebus?; 3) What are the special considerations for any future research efforts, permanent geophysical and other scientific infrastructure, or temporary field deployments on Mount Erebus?; 4) What are the volcanic hazards related to Mount Erebus and what are the risks these pose for McMurdo Station?; 5) What are the measurement requirements to address new or ongoing research objectives related to the Mount Erebus magmatic system?; and 6) Can analysis and measurement techniques along with any autonomous sensor, power, and telemetry systems developed for deployment on Mount Erebus be used to study other remote volcanoes? The outcome from the workshop will be a report of the workshops priorities to the investigator community and a review and summary of the workshop in the American Geophysical Society publication EOS Transactions.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2013


This Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program grant supports the development of a continuous, real-time, low latency Global Positioning System (cGPS) and collocated meteorological sensing package (temperature, barometric pressure, relative humidity, surface wind speed) array in Mexico for atmospheric, climatic, and seismotectonic research in the Americas. The network has been coined TLALOCNet, after the Aztec God of rain fertility and water. TLALOCNet will entail the construction of six new GPS/Met stations located in the Sierra Madre Occidental of northern Mexico, islands in the Pacific off central Mexico and two sites on island in the Bay of Campeche, Gulf of Mexico. An additional 18 existing cGPS sites along the western Coastal and interior regions of central Mexico proximal to the Mexico subduction zone will be upgraded with modern GPS receivers and choke ring antennas, upgraded power and telecommunication systems, meteorological sensors, and enclosures to bring the full network to the standards of the other tectonic geodesy GPS networks (e.g., EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory). TLALOCNet data will be openly and freely available and discovery via UNAVCO web services. TLALOCNet data will offer the potential to transformably advance understanding of atmospheric dynamics in a region that is impacted seasonally and annually with large fluxes of atmospheric moisture from the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. GPS/Met enables the derivation of total precipitable water (TPW) in the Earths atmosphere in a cone above GPS/Met stations by using the delay time of multiple frequency GPS satellite signals that are influenced by the integrated amount of atmospheric moisture from the top of the atmosphere to the receiver antenna. GPS-Met observations of TPW complement other measurements of the vertical and horizontal spatial and temporal distribution of water vapor in the atmosphere through satellite remote sensing methods and weather balloon launched radiosonde meteorological sensors. The real advantage of GPS-Met is that it is an all-weather observation that can cost-effectively provide increased spatial and temporal coverage at scales necessary to improve understanding of the causation and evolution of mesoscale convective systems (MCS). MCS give rise to spectacular volumes and intensity of precipitation in the tropics, especially as that moisture cools and precipitates in response to the atmospheres dynamic interaction with mountainous terrain. MCS may account for between 50-70% of total precipitation annually in northwestern Mexico and the southwestern U.S. during the North American Monsoon. Seasonal and annual TPW in this region is likely to be sensitive to changing climate and resultant hydrometeorological impacts are likely to present large scale societal hazards (e.g., floods, landslides) and have significant water resource management implications for both Mexico and the southwestern U.S. TLALOCNet will also sustain and enhance continued detailed studies of subduction zone dynamics and the earthquake cycle in Western Mexico. Real-time, high rate GPS observations in this region will advance studies of the subduction earthquake cycle, including studies of coseismic rupture processes, postseismic fault afterslip and viscoelastic rebound, episodic tremor and slip (in conjunction with ancillary but contemporaneous seismic observations) , and interseismic elastic strain.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Cooperative Agreement | Program: | Phase: EARTHSCOPE-OPERATIONS & MAINTE | Award Amount: 40.99M | Year: 2013


The GAGE Facility: Geodesy Advancing Geosciences and EarthScope Cooperative Agreement (CA) supports advancement of cutting-edge community geodetic research around the world. Over the last two decades, space-based geodetic observations have enabled measurement of the motions of the Earth?s surface and crust at many different scales, with unprecedented spatial and temporal detail and increased precision, leading to fundamental discoveries in continental deformation, plate boundary processes, the earthquake cycle, the geometry and dynamics of magmatic systems, continental groundwater storage and hydrologic loading. Space geodesy furthers research on earthquake and tsunami hazards, volcanic eruptions, coastal subsidence, wetlands health, soil moisture and groundwater distribution. Of particular importance are contributions to understanding of processes related to climate dynamics, including hurricane tracking and intensity, sea level rise, and changes in mountain glaciers and large polar ice sheets. As global population disproportionately increases in hazards-prone coastal and tectonically active regions of the US and across the globe, the societal relevance of quantifying, understanding, and potentially mitigating natural hazards grows. Geoscientists using global geodetic infrastructure coupled with leading edge techniques are well poised to advance basic research that is in the U.S. and global public interest as the challenges of living on a dynamic planet escalate.

NSF-funded geodesy investigators are active on every continent, across a broad spectrum of the geosciences, and facilitated by data and engineering services that are now merged under the GAGE Facility. GAGE continues operations of: 1) the EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO), an integrated set of geodetic networks that includes 1100 continuous GPS sites (with ~350 high-rate, low-latency data streams and ~125 surface meteorological sensors), 78 borehole strainmeters and seismometers, and 6 long-baseline laser strainmeters, and tiltmeters on several volcanoes; 2) global engineering and data services primarily to NSF-funded investigators who use terrestrial and satellite geodetic technologies in their research and provision of network operations support to community GPS networks and NASA?s Global GNSS Network (GGN); and 3) Education and community outreach actvities. NSF?s Division of Polar Programs (PLR) contributes to the GAGE Facility support of PI research and GPS networks in Greenland and Antarctica. NASA contributes to the GAGE Facility to support the GGN and the activities of the IGS Central Bureau, which underlie the internationally coordinated reference frame products that make high-precision geodesy possible.


Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: IUSE | Award Amount: 142.15K | Year: 2016

There is a strong need for integration of geodesy into university geoscience instruction. Geodesy is the study of the size, shape, and mass of Earth and their changes with time. Recent developments in geodesy have revolutionized our understanding of Earth processes and produced discoveries of significant impact to society. Geodesy field techniques are particularly valuable for assessment of natural hazards and other geologic processes. In addition to scientific research, geodetic technologies can be applied to a wide variety of commercial and government sector applications. The primary goal of this project is to improve students skills in using geodetic technologies through their integration into geoscience field education. Hands-on, field-based experiences provide a unique learning opportunity for students to explore phenomena directly. In this project, curriculum materials will be developed for instructors and students that will help them learn about a variety of geodesy field techniques. During this two-year project at least 240 undergraduate geoscience students will be directly impacted with that number growing to several thousand within five years due to training university faculty to incorporate the learning materials into their college classes.

This project provides a pathway for faculty to effectively integrate geodetic technologies in field experiences. This project will significantly expand resources for undergraduate geoscience student learning of geodetic field methods, research the implementation of resources by faculty in field experiences, and develop a framework to scale to multiple technologies and reach multiple universities. This project will develop, test, and disseminate two learning modules featuring geodetic field methods relevant for a wide array of geoscience applications, and will include robust measure of student learning and dissemination of developed resources to faculty members in short courses, as well as research of faculty implementation. This collaboration between UNAVCO, Idaho State University and Indiana University brings together expertise in geodetic field methods, field instruction, curriculum design, and science education research. The Science Education Resource Center (SERC) will provide assessment consulting, research support, project evaluation, and website hosting. National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) will support dissemination. The learning modules will provide instructional faculty resources to teach geodetic technologies in ways that help students develop critical thinking and other skills necessary to succeed in applied and academic sciences. A second emphasis will be on training and dissemination including short courses for faculty members with both technical and pedagogical aspects, providing a pathway for improved teaching methods in the field and classroom. We will conduct research on the effective adoption of field education teaching materials created by someone else at five universities. Data collected during the implementation and testing of learning modules will contribute to the body of educational research by analyzing the process of adoption of curricular materials by instructors in diverse field settings. This research will aid the efficiency of future curriculum development through better understanding of instructor needs.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: GEOINFORMATICS | Award Amount: 100.91K | Year: 2016

This Geoinformatics award to the University of California San Diego supports a multi-year project that is collaborative with Arizona State University and UNAVCO, Inc. The project plan will improve upon and refine the capabilities of the OpenTopography Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data services web portal that was initially jointly supported by NSF/EAR, NSF/OCI and NSF/CISE (EAR-0930731/EAR-0930643 and EAR-1226353). Efforts will entail development of strengthened interoperability, provision of a broadened suite of processing and data services, improved scalability via cloud and high performance computing, and provision of outreach and user support through short courses and workforce development. OpenTopography (OT) was designed to allow users web-based access Lidar generated high resolution topographic data sets and analysis tools in support of surface Earth process research, research training and education. A wide range of Earth Science fields including geomorphology, hydrology, glaciology, volcanology and neotectonics, have benefitted and will continue to benefit from OT data and tools.

Continued development efforts for OT will expand capabilities to handle full waveform LiDAR, TLS data and bathymetric data as well as the continued ingestion of extant airborne LiDAR and terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) data sets from numerous sources including the National Center for Airborne Laser Swath Mapping Facility (NCALM), the UNVACO hosted TLS instrument pool, NOAA, US Bureau of Reclamation, USGS, Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service and numerous state airborne LiDAR data sets and Space Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) global datasets. This work will expand topographic data collected with laser and photogrammetric technologies at a range of scales with a sustained emphasis on high-resolution topography (HRT; <1m/pix). At present OT?s rapidly growing data holdings currently include 186 LiDAR point cloud datasets (>829 billion points) covering 180,122 km2. The OT user community has grown to over 8,100 registered users and more than 47,000 point cloud processing jobs have accessed over 1.6 trillion LiDAR returns. This support is congruent with NSFs mission of promoting the progress of science and may advance the national prosperity and welfare through improved public access to high resolution digital georeferenced topographic data sets with applications to geohazards assessment and mitigation including improved flood forecasting.


Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: EarthCube | Award Amount: 605.20K | Year: 2016

It is common to hear that it is optimal to perform computations necessary for the operation of corporations in the ?cloud? and it is true that many commercial companies are moving their information technology into that environment. Scientific data centers funded by the NSF have unique constraints that they must accommodate. Funding is limited and costs of managing data centers using cloud technology can be quite costly. Additionally, government funded research organizations typically have much smaller IT staffs than do corporations. The impact of managing IT operations in the cloud is not identical between large corporations and NSF funded data centers. In the GeoSciCloud project, two medium-size NSF funded data centers plan to deploy data collections along with cloud-based services in different environments in order to assess the feasibility and impact. These environments include:
- Commercial cloud environments such as those offered by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft and
- NSF supported large computing facilities that are just beginning to offer services that have characteristics of cloud computing
The operation of these infrastructures in these two cloud environments will be compared to current in-house environments and assessed.
This project will thereby help NSF/EarthCube identify the most suitable IT environment in which the EarthCube should deploy and support shared infrastructure. The potential reliability and cost-savings are excellent motivating factors.

IRIS and UNAVCO operate data centers with several hundred terabytes of data and services that match our communitys needs and requirements. Each organization currently operates its own infrastructure. GeoSciCloud tasks will include moving subsets of our archives, as a test, into commercial cloud and XSEDE cloud environments where we will compare and contrast several aspects of working in different infrastructures. GeoSciCloud partners will also deploy key services developed under the GeoWS building block to enable access to data sets by domain scientists.

GeoSciCloud will help EarthCube compare and contrast the three environments (XSEDE, Commercial Cloud, and current infrastructure) in the following areas:
- Gain an understanding of issues related to the ingestion of large data sets into the cloud and curating the data in a cloud environment.
- Compare processing times for real world requests for data by practicing domain scientists
- Test elasticity of the cloud for doing large amounts of digital signal processing of seismic data and reprocessing GPS solutions for long periods of time.
- Compare the speed of data egress from multiple environments including tests of using higher access systems such as Grid-FTP.
- Compare overall costs of operating in the three environments
- Document what the best practices are that emerge from the GeoSciCloud test that should be promoted within EarthCube.
- Perform conversion of data held in domain formats to more widely used formats such as HDF5 for improved interoperability.
- Test the reliability of streaming real time data into the cloud.
GeoSciCloud will also explore providing some infrastructure in support of other EarthCube partners so that multiple data centers can cohabitate within the GeoSciCloud. IRIS and UNAVCO will commit to ultimately demonstrate the utility of shared infrastructure and how it can improve the efficiency and economics within EarthCube and specifically shared infrastructure in a cloud environment.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: CLIMATE & LARGE-SCALE DYNAMICS | Award Amount: 99.12K | Year: 2016


This grant supports a scientific workshop to be held in May 2016. NSF Geosciences previously supported the design, construction and initial operations of COCONet (Continuously Operating Caribbean GPS Observational Network) to promote advances in in tectonic and weather hazards research in the pan-Caribbean region (EAR-1042906). COCOnet development represents a partnership with 28 sovereign nation and 41 distinct administrative entities in the circum-Caribbean region. A network of over 80 continuously operating Global Positioning System and meteorological observation stations (GPS/Met) that were procured and deployed or refurbished with support from the COCONet construction awards is now nearly complete. In addition, the managing institution, UNAVCO, was able to negotiate with Caribbean partners for the ingestion of an additional 62 GPS data streams engaging Caribbean country regional data centers in the process. All data are publically accessible via the UNAVCO Data archive. Most recently over 80% of all COCONet sites were delivering data to the UNAVCO archive and 45 of those stations deliver in near real time and at high rate (1 Hz). The COCONet data support: 1) constraints on the tectonics of the entire Caribbean region; 2) the enhancement of atmospheric observations that can be used to test and extend climate models; 3) improvement of the analysis of local geodetic measurements by providing access to an integrated backbone of reference stations; and 4) improved likelihood of forecasting natural hazards that pose such a significant threat to the region.

The focus of the workshop presentations and discussions will be on the scientific results, current status and operational requirements, identification of possible pathways to sustain operations into the future, and international capacity building opportunities afforded by the COCONet GPS/Met network. The proposed workshop will bring together scientists, government agency and emergency management officials to discuss the scientific achievements and operational success of COCONet to date, this will include scientists and students from several Caribbean region countries including representatives that are now in charge of established regional COCONet data centers. The workshop will address issues such as hardware and software standardization and will have focused talks highlighting regional partner experiences on the status of the network in their country and how they are planning to maintain and operate COCONet systems. Regional Data Center (RDC) directors from Colombia, Nicaragua, and Barbados will present the status of the data centers in their country and ideas about how to maintain these regional centers for the long-term. The workshop will engage student participation from Caribbean and U.S. academic institutions. This grant is made with support from multiple Programs in the Geosciences Directorate and the Office of International Science and Engineering. This support is congruent with NSFs mission of promoting the progress of science and advancing the national health, prosperity and welfare given the importance of advancing understanding of geohazards that routinely impact the interests of the U.S. as well the training of students in geoscience research and research methods with potential downstream workforce benefits to earth science, meteorology, engineering and emergency management sectors.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Cooperative Agreement | Program: | Phase: INSTRUMENTATION & FACILITIES | Award Amount: 3.40M | Year: 2013


This Cooperative Agreement (CA) between NSF and UNAVCO, Inc. supports continued management and operation of the national Earth sciences Global Positioning System (GPS) and geodetic technology support facility (?the UNAVCO Facility?). Activities supported include planning and engineering support for GPS and geodetic technology field projects, active management of continuously operated GPS networks, campaign GPS project and terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) project support, technology development and testing, data services and education and community engagement activities. All these activities are external to activities UNAVCO manages on behalf of the EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) and which are currently and separately funded via a Cooperative Agreement managed by the EAR/EarthScope Program. Support for this CA includes NSF Division of Earth Sciences and Polar Programs funding as well as support from the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA). UNAVCO, Inc. is a non-profit corporation governed by a Board of Directors elected by the UNAVCO membership comprised predominantly of U.S. academic institutions with active research programs in geodesy. There are currently over 100 member institutions and nearly 80 associate (non-voting members) which including foreign universities, international government observatories, academies, and agencies. It is noteworthy that the consortium membership has grown by some 53% since the time of submission of the last Facility support proposal in 2007. Specific activities to be supported under the CA include:
1) maintenance of a pool of state-of-the-art GPS (currently 350 receivers in the Facility pool) and portable tripod mounted ?terrestrial laser scanners? (TLS; currently 6) available to NSF-supported scientists;
2) continuing support for maintenance, telemetry and ultimate archival of semi-permanent continuous GPS station observations with station locations spanning the globe (currently > 2,200 cCPS stations provide data to the UNAVCO Facility archive, not counting the ca. 1,110 cGPS station that comprise PBO);
3) provision of personnel dedicated to NSF and NASA funded GPS and TLS project planning, logistics and field engineering support (ca. 60-70 non-Polar region projects supported each year and 30-40 Polar projects per year and ca. 30-40 TLS projects supported each year with rapid growth in the latter);
4) maintenance and operations of the 61 stations in the NASA Global GPS Network (GGN), a subset of the International GPS Network (IGS) that provides crucial data to the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) needed for International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF) solutions;
5) development and maintenance of a GPS data archive (now approaching 39 Tb of storage with rapid growth forced by the evolution of near 100 cGPS stations that now record observation at high rate , 1 Hz or greater, and web-based access tools;
6) maintenance and development of an archive and distribution system for synthetic aperture radar (SAR) scenes used for interferometric (InSAR) study of the continuum deformation fields associated with tectonic, volcanic, seismic and subsurface fluid dynamics over spatial scales of 100s of kilometers (the archive contains thousands of scenes of spaceborne SAR imagery from the European Space Agency ERS 1, ERS2, EnviSAT, Canadian RadarSAT and German TerraSAR X SAR satellites; some 20 Tb of holdings);
7) planning and coordination of various geodetic community activities (e.g., scientific workshops, steering committee meetings);
8) development, evaluation and testing of new commercial GPS and geodetic technologies (e.g., antenna phase center calibrations, novel power and telemetry solutions for semi-permanent cGPS and co-located environmental sensor stations, testing of new GNSS capable receivers that are capable of recording new U.S. GPS, European Galileo and Russian GLONASS carrier frequencies);
9) ensuring a representative and responsive governance process on behalf of the U.S. academic research community using precision geodetic techniques; and
10) provision of education and outreach materials and web-based tools to students and the public about precision geodetic research applications, the Earth sciences, and UNAVCO.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: IUSE | Award Amount: 216.23K | Year: 2015

Front Range Community College (FRCC) and UNAVCO, a non-profit research facility that operates the NSF-supported Geodesy Advancing Geosciences and EarthScope (GAGE) Facility, are collaborating on a holistic project to engage and retain community college students throughtout the state of Colorado in geoscience education and career pathways. The American Geosciences Institute 2014 Workforce Report predicts a workforce shortage of ~135,000 geoscientists by 2022. Increasingly, students begin their undergraduate careers in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines at community colleges, making the transition between two-year and four-year undergraduate institutions a critical juncture for ensuring student retention and success. Providing students with authentic experiences in STEM through research experiences and internships, as well as helping students to understand the career opportunities available to them in the geosciences, to develop the academic and professional skills needed to succeed in those careers, and to identify the mentors and networks that can support them along the way, are proven best practices for retaining students in STEM pathways. Given the very diverse demographic make-up of students attending community colleges, successful transfer of these students into four-year degree programs helps to broaden participation of traditionally underrepresented students in STEM and the geosciences.

FRCC and UNAVCO are collaborating to implement a tiered, student-focused program that provides community college students in Colorado with experiential learning opportunities in the geosciences. The Geo-Launchpad program is creating an entry point into geo-focused careers for students through a structured experience, starting with introductory workshops and webinars to engage students, develop career awareness and initiate mentoring and networking. Motivated students move into a semester-long special topics course in geoscience designed to build student capacity, and reinvorce engagement. For a select group of students, the program culminates in an 8-week paid summer internship experience at UNAVCO, which provides continuity of the community college geoscience pathway with the industry and advanced education programs at Colorados research institutions. Students work in teams on projects focused on solid earth, cryosphere, environmental science, hydrogeodesy, and ocean/atmosphere applications of global postitioning system (GPS) technologies. Each intern is supported by 3 mentors, one of which is located at their home institution. In addition to increasing geoscience content knowledge, the Geo-Launchpad program activities help students build basic skills in critical thinking, data analysis, communication, and organization. An annual mini-symposium at UNAVCO provides faculty and students from around the state of Colorado with information regarding the Geo-Launchpad programs, as well as professional development related to mentoring and advising. After the initial phases of implementating the program at FRCC, the project will recruit and make available online many of the resources to other community college students throughout the state.

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