EarthCube Data Initiative

Rebecca Maxwell


Improvements in technology have led to the wide dissemination of information. As long as you have a computer, tablet, or smartphone, you can access a large amount of data from nearly all parts of the globe. The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is taking advantage of this reality through their EarthCube initiative for the benefit of the geosciences. The goal of the project is to an exceptional community-sharing data framework to understand the planet better.

Simply put, EarthCube is a project that was created and is being funded by the U.S. National Science foundation to be a community-led cyberinfrastructure. In order words, the idea behind EarthCube is to produce a knowledge management system or framework that holds a vast amount of data about the globe. EarthCube has been described as a virtual organization or multi-layered partnership along the lines of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). Unlike the international GEOSS, though, EarthCube is more U.S.-based.

The principal aim of EarthCube is to assist scientists and researchers in understanding and predicting the Earth system from its center to the sun. Thanks to technology, this data could be accessed from virtually anywhere either in the research lab, out in the field, in the offices of policy-makers, and the classroom. EarthCube will eventually provide unrestricted, easy access to data for the modeling, plotting, and construction of visual representations of the globe. According to the NSF, the aims of EarthCube are to:

  • Transform research practices and the management of geoscience data over the next decade
  • Quicken Earth system research
  • Enhance the productivity of the geosciences community
  • Provide researchers and educators with new capabilities like data access and visualization tools
  • Achieve data integration across multiple disciplines

EarthCube was formed in 2011 as a collaborate partnership between the NSF’s Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure and the Directorate of Geosciences. The EarthCube virtual community is comprised of over 2,500 scientists, educators, data managers, and other collaborators. One of the most important contributors to EarthCube is Esri, a critical supplier of Geographic Information System software, mapping applications, and web GIS. Ersi has participated in a number of workgroups and projects related to EarthCube.

This unprecedented sharing of geoscience data from EarthCube could have profound impacts upon our comprehension of how the entire globe operates. Scientists, researchers, and politicians are realizing that there is a great need for fast, efficient, and long-term solutions to problems now facing the Earth. Moreover, there is hope that EarthCube might aid in advancing President Obama’s Climate Data Initiative which was announced in March of 2014. This was a call from the White House to open up government data in order to help businesses, communities, and individuals make improved choices in the face of a changing climate.

The best part about EarthCube is its openness. The National Science Foundation is calling upon all members of the geoscience community to consider getting involved by attending in-person and virtual events, participating in forums, joining working groups, and becoming committee members. Moreover, anyone interested in this initiative can use the EarthCube website to stay up-to-date on the project, organize meetings, share documents, and coordinate events.



“Does EarthCube Hold the “Keys to the Kingdom” of Earth Science Data?”

“Global Earth Observation System of Systems.”


“Supporting the White House Climate Data Initiative.”

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About the author
Rebecca Maxwell
Rebecca Maxwell is a freelance writer who loves to write about a variety of subjects. She holds a B.A. in History from Boise State University. Rebecca has also been a contributing writer on

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