Active Initiatives

NSF EarthCube

In June 2011, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) opened an initiative called EarthCube in a partnership between the Geosciences Directorate (GEO) and the Office of Cyberinfrastructure (OCI). This seeks "transformative concepts and approaches to create integrated data management infrastructures across the Geosciences." A Charette was held near Washington DC, 1-4 November 2011, in which OGC staff, members, and over 100 others from the research community participated to define a set of capabilities the EarthCube program needs to address.
In December 2011, NSF released a Dear Colleague Letter with additional details on the process and requirements to explore ideas to receive funding in support of EarthCube goals (available at
See (and subscribe to) for the most current status reports from NSF on this initiative. Other pages on this website provide background materials and whitepapers submitted prior to the charette, as well as ongoing group discussion on various topics. Anyone interested can register and join these discussions at any time.
OGC staff are working with interested members and the broader geosciences research community on organizational framework and other proposals to support this initiative. If you are interested in coordinating with OGC on a proposal for EarthCube, please contact David Arctur on OGC staff (darctur AT

USGS Interoperability Assessment

The rigorous testing of USGS web services performed in the Interoperability Assessment Project helped us identify and correct shortcomings of our implementation of OGC standards, and highlighted areas in which to improve the user experience with our web services.  As a result of the project, our users can include the improved USGS services more easily in their decisions making and operational activities.

Climate-Hydrologic Information Sharing Pilot Sponsors

What is it?  An inter-disciplinary, inter-agency and international virtual observatory system for water resources information from observations and forecasts in the U.S. and Canada, building on current networks and capabilities, designed to support these functions:

  • Hydrologic modeling for historical and current stream flow and groundwater conditions.  Requires the integration of trans-boundary stream flow and groundwater well data, as well as national river networks (US NHD and Canada NHN) from multiple agencies.  Emphasis on time series data and real-time flood monitoring.
  • Modeling and assessment of nutrient load into the lakes.  Requires accessing water-quality data from multiple agencies and integrating with stream flow information for calculating loads.  Emphasis on discrete sampled water quality observations, linking those to specific NHD stream reaches and catchments, and additional metadata for sampled data. 
  • Collection and preservation of provenance, uncertainty measures, and other metadata throughout processing workflows.

Key objectives of these use cases are:

  1. To link observations data to the stream network, enabling queries of conditions upstream from a given location to return all relevant gages and well locations. This is currently not practical with the data sources available.
  2. To bridge differences in semantics across information models and processes used by the various data producers, to improve the hydrologic and water quality modeling capabilities.

Why do it now?  Improved capabilities for sharing, accessing, and integrating hydrologic and climatic data have been identified as a critical need for some time.  We are at a point in time at which an opportunity exists to make large steps forward by leveraging existing resources – including data portals, standards, technologies, activities, and expertise – to develop an initial operational capability for the system described above.  
Expected Benefits

  • Leverage a large body of existing data holdings and related activities of multiple agencies in the US and Canada.
  • Influence data and metadata standards used internationally for web-based information sharing, through multiple agency cooperation and OGC standards setting process.
  • Reduction of procurement risk through partnership-based development of an initial operating capability verses ~10x the cost for building a fully operational system using a traditional “waterfall approach”.
  • Identification and clarification of what is possible, and of the key technical and non-technical barriers to continued progress in sharing and integrating hydrologic and climatic information.
  • Promote understanding and strengthen ties within the hydro-climatic community. This is anticipated to be the first phase of a multi-phase project, with future work on forecasting the hydrologic consequences of extreme weather events, and enabling more sophisticated water quality modeling.


  • Release Request for Quotation / Call for Participation (RFQ/CFP)
  • Proposals due
  • Project Kickoff Meeting, Washington DC area
  • Completion of development and engineering reports