Ontology Development for Provenance Tracing in National Climate Assessment of the US Global Change Research Program
by Marshall X Ma, Postdoctoral Research Assoicate, Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Dec 08, 2013
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The periodical National Climate Assessment (NCA) of the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP)  produces reports about findings of global climate change and the impacts of climate change on the ...
The periodical National Climate Assessment (NCA) of the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP)  produces reports about findings of global climate change and the impacts of climate change on the United States. Those findings are of great public and academic concerns and are used in policy and management decisions, which make the provenance information of findings in those reports especially important. The USGCRP is developing a Global Change Information System (GCIS), in which the NCA reports and associated provenance information are the primary records.
We were modeling and developing Semantic Web applications for the GCIS. By applying a use case-driven iterative methodology , we developed an ontology  to represent the content structure of a report and the associated provenance information. We also mapped the classes and properties in our ontology into the W3C PROV-O ontology  to realize the formal presentation of provenance. We successfully implemented the ontology in several pilot systems for a recent National Climate Assessment report (i.e., the NCA3). They provide users the functionalities to browse and search provenance information with topics of interest. Provenance information of the NCA3 has been made structured and interoperable by applying the developed ontology. Besides the pilot systems we developed, other tools and services are also able to interact with the data in the context of the “Web of data” and thus create added values.
Our research shows that the use case-driven iterative method bridges the gap between Semantic Web researchers and earth and environmental scientists and is able to be deployed rapidly for developing Semantic Web applications. Our work also provides first-hand experience for re-using the W3C PROV-O ontology in the field of earth and environmental sciences, as the PROV-O ontology is recently ratified (on 04/30/2013) by the W3C as a recommendation and relevant applications are still rare.
 Fox, P., McGuinness, D.L., 2008. TWC Semantic Web Methodology. Accessible at: http://tw.rpi.edu/web/doc/TWC_SemanticWebMethodology
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