EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Ensuring Scientific Reproducibility within the Earth Observation Community: Standardized Algorithm Documentation for Improved Scientific Data Understanding

Aaron Kaulfus1, Kaylin Bugbee1, Alyssa Harris2, Rahul Ramachandran3, Sean Harkins2, Aimee Barciauskas2, and Deborah Smith1
Aaron Kaulfus et al.
  • 1University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, United States of America
  • 2DevelopmentSeed, Washington D.C., United States of America
  • 3NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, United States of America

Algorithm Theoretical Basis Documents (ATBDs) accompany Earth observation data generated from algorithms. ATBDs describe the physical theory, mathematical procedures and assumptions made for the algorithms that convert radiances received by remote sensing instruments into geophysical quantities. While ATBDs are critical to scientific reproducibility and data reuse, there have been technical, social and informational issues surrounding the creation and maintenance of these key documents. A standard ATBD structure has been lacking, resulting in inconsistent documents of varying levels of detail. Due to the lack of a minimum set of requirements, there has been very little formal guidance on the ATBD publication process.  Additionally, ATBDs have typically been provided as static documents that are not machine readable, making search and discovery of the documents and the content within the documents difficult for users. To address the challenges surrounding ATBDs, NASA has prototyped the Algorithm Publication Tool (APT), a centralized cloud-based publication tool that standardizes the ATBD content model and streamlines the ATBD authoring process. This presentation will describe our approach in developing a common information model for ATBDs and our efforts to provide ATBDs as dynamic documents that are available for both human and machine utilization. We will also include our vision for APT within the broader NASA Earth science data system and how this tool may assist in standardizes and easing the ATBD creation and maintenance process.

How to cite: Kaulfus, A., Bugbee, K., Harris, A., Ramachandran, R., Harkins, S., Barciauskas, A., and Smith, D.: Ensuring Scientific Reproducibility within the Earth Observation Community: Standardized Algorithm Documentation for Improved Scientific Data Understanding, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-3663,, 2020

This abstract will not be presented.


Display file

Comments on the display

AC: Author Comment | CC: Community Comment | Report abuse

displays version 1 – uploaded on 25 Apr 2020
  • CC1: Comment on EGU2020-3663, Emma Woolliams, 02 May 2020

     Thanks for this. It is very interesting and important work. We have been involved in a project with ESA called EDAP where we developed a maturity-matrix style method for recording the quality assurance of satellite sensor data and on projects looking at the quality assurance of ECV records and we have also been thinking about how to standardise ATBDs to bring metrological rigour (traceability, robust uncertainty analysis etc) into them. I think it would be interesting to set up a teleconference between our groups as I think it would be good to standardise a bit across continents. Let me know if that's of interest.

    • AC1: Reply to CC1, Rahul Ramachandran, 04 May 2020

      Hi Emma,

      Yes, I think it would be important to coordinate this effort between ESA and NASA. We would be happy to discuss this. Can you contact Aaron via email to set up a call?

      thanks for reaching out.