Collaborative climate change research on the semantic web

Presented at: 8th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC2009)

by Christian Battista, Benjamin Coe


WikiEarth ( is a website designed for encouraging collaboration between researchers across the academic spectrum, and also serves as a test case to determine the limitations and benefits of using an ontological data structure to manage the input of natural science based data from around the world. Drawing upon Wikipedia's model of massive user collaboration, WikiEarth's motivation is to extend beyond this by formalizing the relationships between the data being entered. A semantic ontology is a natural candidate for data representation for three reasons: first, the hierarchical class structure of an OWL-Ontology helps avoid redundancy when developing simulations, as an operation can be applied to a class and all its subclasses; secondly, a framework like Jena helps eliminate human error and reduce the amount of data entry that needs to be performed; and finally, important restrictions regarding data entry are imposed by the ontological structure and Jena, as opposed to by a proprietary system developed for one specific application. Utilizing this infrastructure, a WikiEarth Climate Demonstration was successfully conceptualized, constructed, deployed and subsequently unveiled at the 2009 World Student Environmental Summit. The success of this application demonstrates that ontologies could be effectively purposed for a high-traffic production system.

Keywords: Semantic Web

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