Imagery Cyberinfrastructure and Extensible Building-Blocks to Enhance Research in the Geosciences (ICEBERG)

Satellite imagery is rapidly transforming the way we see the planet, including our ability to study the most remote parts of the Arctic and Antarctic. Satellite imagery can help us map networks of rivers, study changes in the flow and thickness of glaciers, identify rock and soil types, and even find animals like penguins and seals. Because the availability of imagery in polar areas has increased rapidly over the last decade, we are now faced with a challenge: To move from small pilot-studies to pan-Arctic or pan-Antarctic analyses of geological and biological processes requires new infrastructures that link scientists, satellite imagery, and fast computing. The project, called ICEBERG - Imagery Cyberinfrastructure and Extensible Building-Blocks to Enhance Research in the Geosciences, aims to build the cyberinfrastructure required to make the most of satellite imagery for geosciences, starting with researchers working in polar areas, and then branching out to the larger community. The Broader Impacts of this proposal include the training of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as young investigators and female scientists. Moreover, the scientific findings enabled by this proposed cyberinfrastructure will have immediate benefits for our ability to predict the future dynamics of the polar regions, and critical to the management of Arctic and Antarctic resources.

Polar geosciences stands at the precipice of a revolution, one enabled by the confluence of cutting edge analytical tools, petabytes of high-resolution imagery, and an ever growing array of high performance computing resources. With these tools at hand, we can look beyond incremental improvements in our understanding of the polar regions. Near-real time datasets of geological and biological importance at the continental scale are within our reach if we create those critical cyberinfrastructure components that allow the geosciences community to exploit existing assets and establish a common workflow for reproducible imagery-enabled science. The research objective of this proposal is to understand the biological, geological, and hydrological functioning of the polar regions at spatial scales heretofore beyond the reach of individual PIs, and to develop tools for imagery-enabled science that can be applied globally. The resulting cyberinfrastructure, which we call ICEBERG - Imagery Cyberinfrastructure and Extensible Building-Blocks to Enhance Research in the Geosciences, is an extensible system for coupling open-source image analysis tools with the use of high performance and distributed computing (HPDC) for imagery-enabled geoscience research. We propose a project to (1) develop open source image classification tools tailored to high-resolution satellite imagery of the Arctic and Antarctic to be used on HPDC resources, (2) create easy-to-use interfaces to facilitate the development and testing of algorithms for application specific geoscience requirements, (3) apply these tools through use cases that span the biological, hydrological, and geoscience needs of the polar community, (4) transfer these tools to the larger non-polar community.

ICEBERG Github Repositories
NSF Award