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earth science
numerous academic centres, through shared
initiatives such as the Pacific Disasters
Center based in Maui, Hawaii [2].
Another interesting approach is
retrospective study of past events through
data deduced from consequent anomalous
geologies. Tsunami research back through
the Holocene and beyond [3], for example, or
tracing historical human-induced changes in
physical geography [4], or effects of tide and
current over time on the fossil record makes
data available to a range of other disciplines
[5]. Analysis of data from geological cores
shows the circular nature of human impacts
on and from the biosphere, as exemplified by
a study [6] showing that major vegetational
shifts coincided with human mastery of fire.
Physical sampling has now been
supplemented (even supplanted) by orbital
observation. From large projects like
NASA’s earth observation satellites (EOS)
the Pacific Disasters center [31] atlases show analytic summaries in map form.
programme to those such as Italy’s COSMO-
SkyMed, this is leading to dramatic increases Institute for Atmospheric Physics (University data from different sources for the same set
in aggregate data volume. Even Iran (victim of Mainz) and Max Planck Institute for of phenomena vary, so cross-checked quality
of the Bam earthquake, and existing user Chemistry. This sort of rapid, circular, organic controls are needed with follow-up research
of Russian facilities) is pursuing in-house evolutionary analytic model is commonplace to maintain reliability.
satellite launching capacity with declared in many areas of science, but is fundamental The company’s PV-WAVE based systems
earth-observation intent. Wooster [7] notes for the earth sciences. But the hasty layered have to incorporate this requirement as well
that TERRA [8] (NASA’s primary earth development of heterogenous resources has as the core function of model generation. The
observation satellite) delivered more data in side effects, including concerns about data consistency and reliability of remote-sensing
its first six months than the whole preceding consistency. data are dependent upon getting the design
50-year earth observation programme There is a US federal information and implementation right in the first place,
combined, and continues to provide new processing system, the USGS Spatial Data and ESA’s European Space Research and
output in the region of a terabyte per day. Transfer Standard or SDTS [10], which Technology Centre (ESTEC), also using PV-
The size of the data sets means constantly defines how geodata should be transferred WAVE functions, has a purpose-designed data
escalating use of developments in scientific from one computer to another. It is designed analysis package which is used throughout
computing, and points up general changes to be an extensible open system which the life of a project from prelaunch testing
in the nature of computerised analysis. A embraces data and their relationships, onwards.
considerable portion of what would once preserving the integrity of both regardless of Programmable numeric computing is more
have been the statistician’s pre-process platform differences. It hasn’t as yet, however, prominent than statistical software in analysis
computational workload is now done by the been universally adopted. Even if adopted of earth sciences phenomena; the reverse
satellites themselves, which assemble signals without exception at all stages, it would not being the case for the human impacts. Matlab,
enviably clean by past standards. Much of the cure conflicts in data accumulated before its for instance, is quoted in studies of event
data is disseminated over the internet. introduction. detection [11] and velocity pulse occurrence
Analyses are conducted here, there, and This consistency issue is exemplified by BMT [12] probabilities, waveform inversion [13],
everywhere, by consumers of the basic data ARGOSS, a Dutch company specialising in [14], near surface sediment responses [15],
to produce digested data products, and often supply of processed marine data products to systematic location errors [16] and event type
returned to the net where they swell the a wide range of government and corporate discrimination [17]. SPSS, on the other hand,
available resources for second-level analysis, customers. ARGOSS buys in raw data appears in work on community and economic
and so on. The distributed nature lets everyone from a number of sources including the US recovery [18], [19] as well as post-disaster
play a part. Cyprus and the Slovak Republic, Government National Oceanographic and medical responses ranging from crush-related
for example, neither of them highly resourced Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and renal failure [20] to post traumatic stress
nations on a world scale, both participate in the European Space Agency (ESA). Intensive disorders [21] in affected populations.
DEISA earth sciences projects [9], with the high resolution numerical modelling converts The human consequences of disasters
Cyprus Institute’s Energy, Environment and environmental data into oceanographic, are most visible in the immediate death
Water Research Centre partnering Germany’s bathyscaphic, and atmospheric services. But rates and infrastructure destruction, but the scientiFic cOMPUtinG WOrLD february/march 2009
SCWfeb09 pp12-15 EarthSciences.indd 13 4/2/09 10:41:40
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