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Countdown to the PAGES Open Science Meeting


Most of us don’t go about our lives thinking about standards, for good reason: standards are so essential that we take them for granted (think: the metric system, electric plugs, GPS, etc).  In paleoclimatology, we’ve somehow accepted to work without standards for decades, and have normalized that it takes months or years of work to gather a few hundred records or do anything useful with them. It doesn’t have to be this way. In an era of uncertain funding for climate science, we need to be sure our time is used as efficiently as it can. That’s where standards come in, and that’s where your help is needed at this time.


One of the goals of LinkedEarth is to foster the development of community standards for paleoclimate datasets. In turn, these standards are being used to develop cutting-edge tools for the analysis of these datasets.


A discussion about community data standards for paleoclimatology started last June at the Workshop on Paleoclimate Data Standards and is now continuing online via the LinkedEarth wiki.  Here’s what we’ve done since June:


  • Published a short workshop report in the PAGES magazine,

  • Written a longer recount on the wiki

  • Nucleated 9 Working Groups (WGs) to kickstart discussions of standards around particular archives, or cross-cutting themes (e.g. chronologies, uncertainties).

  • Issued a preliminary release of Pyleoclim, a series of open-source tools to do science with the data currently on the wiki.

  • Deborah started using LinkedEarth tools to do science. She presented at AGU and wrote an engaging blog post about it.

  • Nick & the PAGES2k team have put nearly 3000 records in LiPD form;  the datasets will soon be uploaded to the wiki once the paper is published, which should happen in the next month or so.  


Our next deadline is the PAGES Open Science Meeting in Zaragoza, May 9-13, where we plan to unveil a preliminary data standard that the community can vote on (and preferably endorse).


That’s where you come in. Some of you have already contributed to our various WGs.  Some groups are further than others: the marine sediments WG created very sophisticated polls that now need people to vote on; the trees WG has brilliantly sketched the outlines of a standard, and just need to structure it so that people can vote on it; the MARPA WG has begun integrating the work they did for their own data template. Other WGs aren’t quite that far.

Between now and the OSM, we need to push these effforts to a point where the community can get behind them. The good news is that a lot of this can be achieved under an hour.


In the next few weeks, Deborah and Julien will reach out to some of you to organize teleconferences of 2 types. First, we will target the geekiest among you (we mean that in the nicest possible way) to help us flesh out the standards around a particular topic (e.g. alkenone unsaturation ratios in marine sediments. Sr/Ca ratios in corals).


Once the WG pages are reasonably complete and ready for your vote, we will ask WGs to flex their democratic muscles and push that vote button. We find it more fun to do this live, which will also be a good occasion to check in and, if need be, alter the phrasing of the polls.

 We think that we can do all that under an hour per teleconference. Why would you take that hour out of your busy schedule, you ask? Well, this engagement will get you:

  1. A standard format for paleoclimate datasets, which is clearly the best thing after eternal life.

  2. Co-authorship on the standard publication.  


Now, the latter may not sound glamorous, but if everyone who participates cites it when they publish their data (“Our data are archived following the Paleoclimate Data Standard, version 1.0 [PDS Consortium, 2017]”), we all win.


So, can we count on you to make your life better?  If you have not already, please  fill out your profile, and join a working group. We’ll be in touch shortly.


With Gratitude,


The LinkedEarth Team.

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Copyright © 2016 LinkedEarth. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number ICER-1541029. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the investigators and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.