About EIS

What is NASA’s Earth Information System?

The Earth Information System (EIS) is a platform for understanding and answering critical questions about Earth’s complex System of Systems.  Using NASA’s 20+ years of Earth observation data and novel modeling capabilities, it aims to support near-term and long-range analysis and decision making in support of preparation, mitigation, and resilience in the face of climate change. 

The EIS is organized around topical Scientific Collaboration Environments (SCEs), which group fragmented data, models and tools to comprehensively address a specific topic (i.e. freshwater, sea level change, fire).  SCEs speak to the needs of both the scientific and non-scientific communities in the following ways: 

  1. For scientists:  The shared workspace of the SCEs allows researchers to share code and data, which eliminates barriers to entry for new team members. It also facilitates collaboration between researchers and field workers, and can serve as a quasi-operational testbed for iterative product refinement. 
  2. For non-scientists:  In collaboration with Applied Science and Research & Analysis programs, SCEs communicate critical information in a way that is accessible to non-scientists. 

The EIS open-science framework is game-changing.  Combined with NASA’s scientific expertise and rigorous validation procedures, it will accelerate understanding by encouraging broad community engagement, and will benefit a wide range of research, commercial, and government objectives.  

Under the Hood

The EIS builds upon NASA’s Earth Observing System Data Information System (EOSDIS), and leverages NASA’s Earth Science Data System’s (ESDS) Data System Evolution (DSE) and the cloud-based computational resources of the High-End Computing (HEC) programs.  Combining models with data from multiple missions and focus areas, NASA scientists develop Level 5 Science Products.  L5 Products range from reanalysis to real-time integrated products to skillful predictions.  For example, fire risk is dependent on fuels which are studied in several focus areas (precipitation, soil moisture, vegetation health and structure);  in turn, active fires generate atmospheric conditions that travel the globe and impact air quality.  The EIS answers questions related to the global interaction of multiple focus areas and does so in a way that is comprehensible and relevant on a local level.

2021 Pilots

In FY21, we initiated three pilot studies - freshwater, fire, and sea-level change - which confirmed the potential of the EIS. The objectives of these pilots were to:  

  1. Determine the feasibility and value of a potential Earth Information System (EIS)
  2. Overcome the challenges inherent in combining data and models from different focus areas
  3. Determine the capabilities & limitations of new open source and commercial tools (such as Jupyterhub & ESRI’s ArcGIS StoryMaps) 
  4. Demonstrate a new, more open approach to sharing scientific results to ensure that they are both accessible and actionable  
  5. Meet high priority needs by working closely with user communities

Thoroughly understanding the multidisciplinary topics chosen for the EIS pilots is complex because various Earth systems interact with each other, and the contributing processes may act on a range of spatial and temporal scales.  The pilot teams developed a broader System of Systems approach to answer complex questions by capturing their interactions.

The pilots answered questions, uncovered unexpected benefits, and raised more questions.  A second year of pilot activities is planned in FY22.

What is a Level 5 Science Product?

Level 5 refers to a multivariate product suite that synthesizes multiple data and/or model sources to answer specific questions driven by Earth Science and Applications objectives and provides Earth science information that inherently cannot be derived from a single mission.