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Toward open science at the European scale: Geospatial Semantic Array Programming for integrated environmental modelling

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posted on 17.10.2016 by Daniele de Rigo, Paolo Corti, Giovanni Caudullo, Daniel McInerney, Margherita Di Leo, Jesús San-Miguel-Ayanz

de Rigo, D., Corti, P., Caudullo, G., McInerney, D., Di Leo, M., San Miguel-Ayanz, J., 2013. Toward open science at the European scale: Geospatial Semantic Array Programming for integrated environmental modelling. Geophysical Research Abstracts 15, 13245+. ISSN 1607-7962, European Geosciences Union (EGU).


This is the authors’ version of the work. The definitive version is published in the Vol. 15 of Geophysical Research Abstracts (ISSN 1607-7962) and presented at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2013, Vienna, Austria, 07-12 April 2013


Toward open science at the European scale: Geospatial Semantic Array Programming for integrated environmental modelling


Daniele de Rigo ¹ ², Paolo Corti ¹ ³, Giovanni Caudullo ¹, Daniel McInerney ¹, Margherita Di Leo ¹, Jesús San-Miguel-Ayanz ¹

¹ European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability,
Via E. Fermi 2749, I-21027 Ispra (VA), Italy

² Politecnico di Milano, Dipartimento di Elettronica e Informazione,
Via Ponzio 34/5, I-20133 Milano, Italy

³ United Nations World Food Programme,
Via C.G.Viola 68 Parco dei Medici, I-00148 Rome, Italy



Interfacing science and policy raises challenging issues when large spatial-scale (regional, continental, global) environmental problems need transdisciplinary integration within a context of modelling complexity and multiple sources of uncertainty. This is characteristic of science-based support for environmental policy at European scale, and key aspects have also long been investigated by European Commission transnational research. Approaches (either of computational science or of policy-making) suitable at a given domain-specific scale may not be appropriate for wide-scale transdisciplinary modelling for environment (WSTMe) and corresponding policy-making. In WSTMe, the characteristic heterogeneity of available spatial information and complexity of the required data-transformation modelling (D-TM) appeal for a paradigm shift in how computational science supports such peculiarly extensive integration processes. In particular, emerging wide-scale integration requirements of typical currently available domain-specific modelling strategies may include increased robustness and scalability along with enhanced transparency and reproducibility. This challenging shift toward open data and reproducible research (open science) is also strongly suggested by the potential - sometimes neglected - huge impact of cascading effects of errors within the impressively growing interconnection among domain-specific computational models and frameworks. Concise array-based mathematical formulation and implementation (with array programming tools) have proved helpful in supporting and mitigating the complexity of WSTMe when complemented with generalized modularization and terse array-oriented semantic constraints. This defines the paradigm of Semantic Array Programming (SemAP) where semantic transparency also implies free software use (although black-boxes - e.g. legacy code - might easily be semantically interfaced). A new approach for WSTMe has emerged by formalizing unorganized best practices and experience-driven informal patterns. The approach introduces a lightweight (non-intrusive) integration of SemAP and geospatial tools - called Geospatial Semantic Array Programming (GeoSemAP). GeoSemAP exploits the joint semantics provided by SemAP and geospatial tools to split a complex D-TM into logical blocks which are easier to check by means of mathematical array-based and geospatial constraints. Those constraints take the form of precondition, invariant and postcondition semantic checks. This way, even complex WSTMe may be described as the composition of simpler GeoSemAP blocks. GeoSemAP allows intermediate data and information layers to be more easily and formally semantically described so as to increase fault-tolerance, transparency and reproducibility of WSTMe. This might also help to better communicate part of the policy-relevant knowledge, often diffcult to transfer from technical WSTMe to the science-policy interface. [...]