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The Electronic Geophysical Year 2007-2008

Charles E. Barton1 , Daniel N. Baker2 and William K. Peterson2

1 Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
2 Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA


A worldwide revolution is taking place in the way we store, access, and analyze data and information. For the geosciences, our ability to gather data about the Earth and its space environment is unprecedented. Data acquisition rates of a petabytes per day no longer cause surprise and real-time access to data is becoming widespread. We can obtain data and services via the internet and grid systems from anywhere in the world, we can store and serve data with true interoperability, we can deal with real-time data applications, assimilate data into models, build virtual observatories, and more.

The challenges of organizing, providing ready access to, and using data effectively expand as data volumes, data complexity, and interoperability requirements increase. Meeting these challenges demands investment of time and resources as well as new skills. The onset of these demands has been rapid and novel.

The Electronic Geophysical Year of 2007-2008 (eGY - see has served to build an international foundation for capitalizing on the new opportunities, The objective is to raise awareness of, and promote informatics capabilities in Earth and space science research; to advance towards the goal of a geoscience information commons in the spirit of the International Geophysical Year fifty years ago; to accelerate the development and adoption of virtual observatories and similar cyber-based systems for dealing with the large, diverse data and information requirements of modern research, and to promote better data management policies and practices. The formal themes of eGY are data access, data discovery, data release, data preservation & rescue, reducing the Digital Divide, and education and outreach.

The central outcome of eGY, which ends in December 2008, has been a heightened awareness among scientists and their professional bodies such as ICSU, IUGG, IUGS, COSPAR, AGU, GSA, and EGU, of the role of infomatics in science.