Global Change Information System


The U.S. Global Change Research Program ( is sponsoring the creation of the Global Change Information System (GCIS) that provides a web based source of authoritativeaccessibleusable, and timely information about climate and global change for use by scientists, decision makers, and the public.   A public version of the GCIS API is available at:

This session will present an overview of the GCIS system, status and progress as it moves to cover various reports, datasets, and entities beyond the Third National Climate Assessment.  There will be time for discussion and feedback about the long term vision for the system.

  • Steve:

    • Provided an overview of the GCIS.

    • Resilience is an important element for the GCIS.

      • Resilience relies on contributions from the community.

  • Robert:

    • Purpose of GCIS: to better coordinate and integrate the use of Federal information products on changes in the global environment.

    • The program is in its third year.

      • Initial concept was in May, 2012.

      • GCIS went live in May, 2012.

      • The most recent activity is that Indicator Release occurred in April, 2015.

    • Provenance was build into GCIS, so that traceability and reproducibility were implemented and supported as much as possible.

      • Even though there is scale of how transparent and reproducible each data can be, GCIS continues work on both elements, so that it can improve further.

    • Current GCIS activities include interagency collaboration and continuous quality assurance/adaptability in addition to scaling up content.

  • Brian - Technical Updates:

  • Justin - Semantic Web Update:

    • GCIS’s Ontology 1.2:

      • Completed in 2013.


      • Important to improve the ontology, so that it is more encompassing.

        • Several improvement activities are underway.  Highlights of these activities include:

          • Better relationships, better characterization of observation entities, updated definitions, extensions to handle CDI ‘theme” concepts.

  • Questions/Comments:

    • There is a collection of climate education resources, some of which draw on the same datasets, in this catalog:  It seems that would be a useful dimension to add to the GCIS.  Is that possible?

      • The short answer is yes; the GCIS team welcomes feedback regarding the additional resources that should be included/integrated into the GCIS.

    • It is important that we feature more of good examples because these examples would help in propagating good practices, including the use of identifiers and use of semantic web.

      • The practice of using internal identifier is good, but it would be better if we encourage exposure of these identifiers.

    • Questions regarding identifiers (i.e. who uses your identifiers,  how do you construct and use URIs and URLs, and who manages identifier mappings) are important to many attendees.  Collaborations among different attendees would most likely to be very helpful in answering these questions further.

    • Who should be the authoritative figure for the identifiers within an organization?

      • One approach could be that the agencies could take an hierarchical approach as the journal publications.

    • What is the best way to identify the identifiers?

      • It would be important for an organization to specify/clarify its identifier system and provide documentation/information.
Wolfe, R.; Aulenbach, S.; Duggan, B.; Global Change Information System; Summer Meeting 2015. ESIP Commons , March 2015