In meteorology, hydrology, climate science and oceanography, petabytes of geospatial data are stored in NetCDF, HDF5 or GRIB files and distributed via technologies such as the OPeNDAP.org HYRAX server, PyDAP server or THREDDS Data Server. These servers all provide the OPeNDAP data service, and some supply WMS services, WCS services, SOS services, etc. Often the datasets are CF (Climate and Forecast Convention) http://cf-pcmdi.llnl.gov/documents/cf-conventions/1.6/cf-conventions.html compliant, which means that data extracted from these systems via OPeNDAP have unambiguous geospatial information sufficient to be ingested into traditional GIS or other goespatial applications.

Some questions related to these geospatial technologies have appears on stackoverflow, but I'm wondering whether they might be more appropriate here, as the gap seems to be closing between the traditional GIS community and the traditional 4D massive scientific data community.

I feel that asking these questions here would help bring these communities togther even more, which I think would be a good thing, but I don't want to annoy this group if I'm wrong.

So the question is: should this community start asking questions on gis.stackexchange, or continue on stackoverflow?


4 Answers 4


I would say that these kinds of questions are definitely within the scope of this site. As @blah238 has mentioned in the comment, we already have quite a few questions on these topics; More are welcome.


I would encourage such a development. I use Python and R mostly with the open-source libraries to process remote sensing datasets and some mesoscale weather/atmospheric modeling output and am always hesitating whether to post here or at Stackoverflow. Right now, the community here is a little overly swamped with questions about how to do X in ArcGIS, or sometimes QGIS. It could also benefit from growing a little.

So +1 for all sorts of geospatial computational science from me.


This "answer" is tangential, almost to the point of being off-topic, but here goes anyway: There's long standing dissatisfaction, here and in the computing/science/professional world at large with the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) moniker being expanded to include sibling disciplines like Remote Sensing, Surveying, and 4D, among others. The discontent is likely nearly as old as the term itself, and largely justified.

That said in spite of much effort being put in to finding alternative umbrella terms, none have taken hold. Case in point, geomatics. First used circa 1969, semantically it does everything asked of it. A short, memorable term that doesn't conflict with anything prior and whose definition encompasses all of the above, yet:

  • : 0 questions on our site after 3 years as pointed out by Andre, there aren't any either. On the other hand gis 5101 results, and geomatics 15 results.
  • the Wikipedia article is woefully incomplete (just compare to the corresponding gis and remote sensing pages)
  • most spell-checkers don't know it
  • and for twenty years 80%+ of the time I'm asked what my job title is (Geomatics Technician, then Analyst) I've needed to explain it. I don't even answer the phone any more with the name of our departmental unit. People know what GIS is by and large, even the general public, but ...Geomatics? Huh?

This is just a long way to get to the point: for better or ill, GIS is the closest thing I've seen to an umbrella term and we might as well use it they way most outside of our respective disciplines see it.

  • 1
    Of course I can afford to be noble, it's the term for my home base that's being proposed a winner. I'd be ok with accepting something else as master though, I just don't see anything likely to do so. (Except perhaps 3S, though we'd need a different numeral; 9?) Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 19:30
  • 1
    There's always Googlefight. Spoiler alert: GIS wins, big time. Even "geospatial" doesn't come close.
    – blah238
    Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 20:11
  • heheh @blah238, gis and remote sensing are neck and neck Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 4:12
  • @matt with search engines you have to put phrases in quotes otherwise you'll get all sorts of unrelated results. In that case GIS wins big again! Part of it may be because it's a 3-letter acronym and so has many other meanings though.
    – blah238
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 5:01
  • 1
    @blah238 that's interesting. I'd read, a long time ago mind you, that Google treated any punctuation as a connector, meaning all these were considered equivalent: "remote sensing", remote.sensing, remote-sensing. (this is ranging far afield on an answer that's already afield! let's carry on in chat, if there's any more to be said) Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 17:13

I believe "non-traditional" could be the keyword here.

Much has been (was?) debated about Geographic Information Systems and related areas (e.g. Remote Sensing, Cartography, Photogrammetry, Surveying) being more than just applications or technologies, but also a particular science.
One argument among others to support this claim is the fact that GIS deals with complex problems (in space and time), which could not be solved based on a non GIS approach.

IMO, these kind of data you are arguing is typically related to such complex environmental problems/situations where the integration with GIS is usually mandatory.

The fact questions like that are already being asked here (as stated by blah238 and Devdatta), makes me think community is wide open to receive many types of GIS-related issues (simple, complex, traditional, non-traditional, etc).

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