CISL, CGD, UNIDATA and SUNY Albany win EarthCube grants

Sep 28, 2020

The National Science Foundation has awarded EarthCube grants for a joint proposal by CISL, the NCAR Climate and Global Dynamics (CGD) Laboratory, Unidata, and SUNY Albany to provide training resources for Earth system science using the Python ecosystem and cloud computing. Known as “Project Pythia: A Community Learning Resource for Geoscientists,” the collaboration will provide web-accessible training to help current and future scientists understand huge volumes of numerical scientific data.

John Clyne, project principal investigator and leader of CISL’s Visualization and Analysis Software Team, said Project Pythia will leverage Jupyter Notebooks as the primary delivery mechanism for training examples, curricula, and as an interactive computing platform.


Diagram illustrating Project Pythia

A diagram of Project Pythia, which will include a web portal for finding and viewing content, downloading executable Python scripts or Jupyter Notebooks, or launching a Notebook on a cloud resource.

The University at Albany will catalyze the development of content and new user growth through data-intensive classroom and research activities. The training content will be hosted on GitHub and maintained using an open-development model to facilitate and encourage contributions from the user community and help ensure the project’s long-term sustainability.

“Our aim is to provide one of the world's go-to, community-owned sites for geoscientists and students who want to know what tools to use and how to use them to explore their data,” Clyne said. The open-source scientific Python ecosystem provides numerous tools with wide-ranging functionality, he noted, and cloud computing has the potential to enable universal data access as well as a common, highly scalable computing platform.

The project is intended to facilitate and expand access to those abundant tools and technologies, which the proposal says often go untapped and can be a source of “great frustration” as well. One objective is to help scientists reduce the large amount of time they presently have to spend deciding which tool or technology to use, learning how to use the appropriate tools and technology, and figuring out how to share their work.

The two EarthCube grants awarded for Project Pythia total just over $1 million. Co-principal investigators for the UCAR entities are Kevin Paul, CISL Technology Development Division; Matthew Long, CGD; and Ryan May, Unidata. Brian Rose, a SUNY Albany assistant professor, is principal investigator for the university grant.