Tetherless World Constellation SSIII is supported by NSF


Semantic Sea Ice Interoperability Initiative



SSIII is a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded effort to enhance the interoperability of sea ice data to establish a network of practitioners working to enhance semantic interoperability of all Arctic data. SSIII is a collaborative project between NSIDC and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Tetherless World Constellation project. We seek to build on the work initiated under the International Polar Year (IPY) and create a community of practice working to improve interoperability within the Polar Information Commons (PIC), the Sustained Arctic Observing Network (SAON), and broader global systems.

We will initially focus on the scientific understanding of sea ice by developing a sea ice ontology. We will work initially from a scientific perspective, but over time, we will explore incorporating the knowledge and perspectives of Arctic residents by collaborating closely with the Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge in the Arctic (ELOKA) project.

We will be posting our initial use cases and concept maps leading to the creation of the ontology as they are developed and eagerly encourage feedback from Arctic scientists and data mangers. In the meantime, we are interested in learning about other Arctic vocabularies, ontologies, and semantic frameworks. If you are interested in being involved or want to learn more, please contact the SSIII Team.


We envision a sustained network providing enhanced interdisciplinary understanding and usability of polar data and improved data interoperability across the polar domains to enable use by a very broad population.


To develop a broadly useful sea ice ontology and to foster the development of a network of active practitioners working to make their data more semantically interoperable.


  • Extend, strengthen, and enhance the interoperability of the established and growing network of the IPY Data and Information Service and PIC through the facilitated community development and review of ontologies and their connections to other semantic systems and data services.
  • Develop a detailed, yet broad, sea ice ontology linked to relevant marine, polar, atmospheric, and global ontologies and semantic services.
  • Explicitly incorporate elements of local and traditional Arctic knowledge in the sea ice ontology.
  • Make available National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) sea ice data holdings using the sea ice ontology and encourage the use and facilitated evolution of the ontology by other networks and interested parties.
  • Integrate the sea ice ontology into developing global and polar ontologies and the related semantic frameworks.
  • Improve the discovery, understanding, and use of sea ice data by enabling faceted searches of sea ice data in multiple existing and developing search interfaces.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 0956010.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.