CU Boulder Earth Lab

Harnessing the Power of the Data Revolution

Earth Lab integrates the massive volume of Earth systems data available from space, airplanes, sensor networks, social media and other sources to address environmental challenges. At Earth Lab, scientific research and earth analytics education are coupled with powerful analytic capabilities. Analytic power fuels creative and collaborative teams of faculty, postdoctoral researchers, graduate research assistants and undergraduate interns with innovative research. Education efforts provide the needed career-focused skills to new and seasoned scientists alike. Earth Lab envisions a future where all Earth data is most effectively used to help society manage and adapt to global environmental change.

Earth Lab:

  • Capitalizes on the data deluge from Space and other platforms to accelerate science.

  • Reduces environmental risk by using this wealth of data to better understand and predict Earth System change.

  • Trains a new generation of data scientists who can address outstanding Earth Science questions.

Earth Lab is Committed to Open, Reproducible Science

Earth Lab projects are driven by a commitment to open and reproducible science. As part of this commitment, Earth Lab develops tools to simplify data access and use in open tools including R and Python. Earth Lab also provides cutting-edge training with reproducible computational workflows. Earth Lab develops courses, tutorials and teaching ready data subsets that are open and available to the community as well.

Earth Lab harnesses the data revolution through research, analytics, and education to accelerate understanding of global environmental change to help society better manage and adapt.

Earth Lab Structure

Earth Lab is made up of three core teams including:

  • Science: Earth Lab science teams perform cutting-edge research in the domains of fire, extremes, permafrost, erosion, forest disturbances, risk assessment, human settlements, environmental health, mountain ecohydrology, and data harmonization.

  • Earth Analytics Education: The Earth Lab education initiative includes a professional graduate certificate, undergraduate and graduate courses, an internship program and hundreds of free, online tutorials and courses.

  • Earth Analytics Hub: The Analytics Hub provides expertise, tools, training, and support to the Earth Lab team and the broader scientific community helping them bring new data and analytics to their research.

All three teams work closely together. Science projects are often translated into course modules taught by Earth Lab and placed online. The analytics hub works closely with the education team to identify training needs, create online tutorials and teach workshops.

Future as a National Synthesis Center for Data-Intensive Global Change Research

Over the next five years, Earth Lab will:

  1. Accelerate new discoveries in understanding global environmental change,

  2. Help researchers bring new data and analytics to their science,

  3. Help to train a new generation of 21st century data-capable Earth analysts,

  4. Contribute to a new scientific culture on campus through open science and dynamic networks,

  5. Serve as a university node for data-intensive global change science and education, and

  6. Build strong public-private partnerships to better solve environmental challenges.

Through these six strategic goals Earth Lab will lay the groundwork to scale to a national synthesis center that addresses priorities at the intersection of Earth systems science and data-intensive discovery. Earth Lab will become a recognized node in a larger constellation of national activities that includes inputs from industry, government, and academic partners to take data to discovery to decisions.

How Earth Lab Started

Earth Lab was launched in September 2015 by the University of Colorado Boulder as part of the campus-wide Grand Challenge effort called “Our Space. Our Future”, to address our world’s most pressing problems through CU’s expertise in space-based observation and exploration. Earth Lab represents an investment that capitalizes on CU’s strengths in Earth and Space sciences, given the university’s more than 70-year history of space exploration and space-based observations. Earth Lab joined the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Institute at CU-Boulder in July 2017.