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Open AccessCase Report

Lifting the Information Barriers to Address Sustainability Challenges with Data from Physical Geography and Earth Observation

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enviroSPACE, Department F.-A. Forel for Environmental and Aquatic Sciences, Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva, 66 Bd. Carl-Vogt, CH-1205 Geneva, Switzerland
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Natural Capital Project, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, 371 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
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GRID-Geneva, Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva, 66 Bd. Carl-Vogt, CH-1205 Geneva, Switzerland
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Google, Mountain View, CA 94043-1351, USA
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Berkeley Institute for Data Science, University of California, Berkeley, 190 Doe Library, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
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Marine Science Institute, University California of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-6150, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Mary J. Thornbush
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 858; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9050858
Received: 30 March 2017 / Revised: 1 May 2017 / Accepted: 5 May 2017 / Published: 19 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Geography and Environmental Sustainability)
Sustainability challenges demand solutions, and the pace of technological and scientific advances in physical geography and Earth observation have great potential to provide the information needed to address these challenges. This paper highlights five online tools and initiatives that are lifting barriers to address these challenges. The enviroGRIDS project in the Black Sea catchment demonstrates how the use of spatial data infrastructures can facilitate data sharing. Google Earth Engine is providing solutions to challenges of processing big data into usable information. Additionally, application programming interfaces allow outsiders to elaborate and iterate on programs to explore novel uses of data and models, as seen in the Berkeley Ecoinformatics Engine. Finally, collaborative mapping tools, such as Seasketch/MarineMap and the InVEST software suite, allow engagement within and between groups of experts and stakeholders for the development, deployment, and long-term impact of a project. Merging these different experiences can set a new standard for online information tools supporting sustainable development from evidence brought by physical geography combined with socioeconomic conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable development goals; ecosystem services; spatial data infrastructure; high performance computing; application programming interface; collaborative user interface sustainable development goals; ecosystem services; spatial data infrastructure; high performance computing; application programming interface; collaborative user interface
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lehmann, A.; Chaplin-Kramer, R.; Lacayo, M.; Giuliani, G.; Thau, D.; Koy, K.; Goldberg, G.; Jr., R.S. Lifting the Information Barriers to Address Sustainability Challenges with Data from Physical Geography and Earth Observation. Sustainability 2017, 9, 858.

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