Paleoclimatology is a highly integrative discipline, involving researchers with often disjunct expertise in the field sciences, geochemistry, data analysis and numerical modeling. The resulting diversity of practices, terminology, and formats for data storage and exchange hinders our ability to understand past climates at plan- etary scales. This paper presents the first unifying representation of paleoclimate metadata, the Linked Earth Ontology, centered on the concept of proxy systems. The ontology structure mirrors the Linked Paleo Data format, an emerging standard for paleoclimate data exchange, and is structured in modules that extend existing standard ontologies. We show how scientists can extend the Linked Earth ontol- ogy through the Linked Earth Platform that enables controlled crowdsourcing, as well as publishing paleoclimate datasets following linked open data principles. We also illustrate how the ontology supports emerging scientific workflows centered on ensemble-based chronology analysis. Together, these innovations help make paleoclimate data findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. This increases their societal value by easing their use in comprehensive climate assessments and evidence-based estimates of long-term climate risk.
This paper, submitted May 16 2018 to Earth Science Informatics, describes the first ever ontology for paleoclimate data. We are eager to hear what reviewers think of it, and to see what the community will do with it.