Understanding the past, present, and changing behavior of the climate requires close collaboration of a large number of researchers from many scientific domains. At present, the necessary interdisciplinary collaboration is greatly limited by the difficulties in discovering, sharing, and integrating climatic data due to the tremendously increasing data size. This paper discusses the methods and techniques for solving the inter-related problems encountered when transmitting, processing, and serving metadata for heterogeneous Earth System Observation and Modeling (ESOM) data. A cyberinfrastructure-based solution is proposed to enable effective cataloging and two-step search on big climatic datasets by leveraging state-of-the-art web service technologies and crawling the existing data centers. To validate its feasibility, the big dataset served by UCAR THREDDS Data Server (TDS), which provides Petabyte-level ESOM data and updates hundreds of terabytes of data every day, is used as the case study dataset. A complete workflow is designed to analyze the metadata structure in TDS and create an index for data parameters. A simplified registration model which defines constant information, delimits secondary information, and exploits spatial and temporal coherence in metadata is constructed. The model derives a sampling strategy for a high-performance concurrent web crawler bot which is used to mirror the essential metadata of the big data archive without overwhelming network and computing resources. The metadata model, crawler, and standard-compliant catalog service form an incremental search cyberinfrastructure, allowing scientists to search the big climatic datasets in near real-time. The proposed approach has been tested on UCAR TDS and the results prove that it achieves its design goal by at least boosting the crawling speed by 10 times and reducing the redundant metadata from 1.85 gigabytes to 2.2 megabytes, which is a significant breakthrough for making the current most non-searchable climate data servers searchable.
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