2023 CSDMS meeting-061


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Computational and data management considerations integrate theory and social value of Earth’s critical surface in new science frontiers

Risa Madoff, (She/her/hers),EPSP Grand Forks North Dakota, United States. risamadoff@yahoo.com

Relating scientific results generated from modeling, remote sensing, or instrumental measurements of Earth’s surface to topics of social relevance often poses challenges for theoretical scientists. Theoretical science is treated as divorced from social matters, as a matter of definition, unless specific problems are solved, then it shifts into an applied realm and is viewed as spatially constrained. A paradox results: if scientific results are “merely” theoretical, yet intended to be universal, then it is undetermined whether results would follow everywhere, but if they are collected from actual measures and observations it is undetermined whether the same conditions are everywhere and apply to all spatial and temporal scales. The problem is particularly acute for Earth’s surface which is both physical and has high value for all human beings and infrastructures and all life. It is also the object of theoretical models. So, it is critical for human life and its connections to all life that models aim to model the spatial and temporal reality of Earth’s surface including regional variabilities with their constraints. Social relevance is a value that can be viewed together with physical characterizations as part of understanding landscapes.

Outlined are considerations to help integrate values that express social relevance into the scope of how theoretical science is conducted and approached to address the scale of connectedness of Earth’s surface while expanding the human reach of Earth surface modeling. Inspiration has been taken from recent NSF sponsored initiatives, such as efforts to expand and unify through diversity and inclusion the critical zone (CZRN) and convergence research in Navigating the New Arctic, as well as the open science philosophy of CSDMS, and a recent Greenland Data workshop seeking to unify data management of Greenland. I contribute my synthesis to engage with others about how the application of computational approaches and landscape data management can be used to provide basic platforms for treating and comparing earth surface data at multiple temporal and spatial scales while having “convergence” of social spheres as an underlying consideration. Therefore, the infinite potential at any point on Earth’s surface is representable, relatable, and connectable numerically, and it recognizes and includes the realm of human beings as investigators and inhabitants of any landscape.

Computational thinking may be a source for thinking about expanding who are considered the inhabitants of landscapes and who studies the landscapes, i.e. including diverse identities in research while also unifying them through shared and recognized goals. Expanding the realm of theory in Earth surface processes to include model data about people, life, geographies, climates, processes and their change through time is a new science frontier. The idea that information has many dynamic layers and dimensions and that there are many ways to connect and relate them through time with computational approaches as a starting point may serve as a guide for integrating social value into theoretical research.
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