Cyberinfrastructure for interdisciplinary stable isotope science
Data on natural variation of the ratios of stable isotopes support a vast array of research applications that trace energy and mass transfer within and among Earth systems. Such data have been collected by Earth scientists, ecologists, and social and behavioral scientists, among others, for more than a half century, and present both exciting opportunities and major challenges for disciplinary and large-scale interdisciplinary research. Three key challenges facing many or most researchers include 1) an ongoing transformation from boutique data production in specialist laboratories to a broader, more decentralized model of measurements enabled by simpler, lower-cost technologies, 2) the need in most applications to discover, access, and integrate baseline data from prior work, including out-of-discipline datasets, and 3) a growing demand for tools supporting standardized, quantitative, and rigorous analysis of larger data sets in research ranging from discovery science to mission-focused applications. I will introduce a series of initiatives stemming from our group and the broader interdisciplinary stable isotope community that tackle each of these challenges, with some discussion of emerging opportunities and lessons learned.