About the Global Change Information System

The US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has established the Global Change Information System (GCIS) to better coordinate and integrate the use of federal information products on changes in the global environment and the implications of those changes for society.

The GCIS is an open-source, web-based resource for traceable, sound global change data, information, and products. Designed for use by scientists, decision makers, and the public, the GCIS provides coordinated links to a select group of information products produced, maintained, and disseminated by government agencies and organizations. As well as guiding users to global change research products selected by the 13 member agencies, the GCIS serves as a key access point to assessments, reports, and tools produced by the USGCRP. The GCIS is managed, integrated, and curated by USGCRP.

Global Change

For the purposes of the GCIS, “global change” refers to changes in the global environment that may alter the capacity of the Earth to sustain life. Global change encompasses climate change, but it also includes other critical drivers of environmental change that may interact with climate change, such as land use change, the alteration of the water cycle, changes in biogeochemical cycles, and biodiversity loss.

Global change information is structured using the GCIS data model; this data model represents relationships and entities such as reports, report chapters, figures, images, tables, bibliographic entries, organizations and people.


Each item referenced in the GCIS has a unique, persistent identifier. This identifer takes the form of a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), but may include or be related to other identifiers as well, such as Universally Unique Identifiers (UUIDs), Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs), ORCIds, and ISBNs. Native identifiers for resources are incorporated in to the URI as much as possible to help with interoperability between the GCIS and other systems.

Provenance and Semantics

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) definition of provenance, "... information about entities, activities, and people involved in producing a piece of data or thing, which can be used to form assessments about its quality, reliability or trustworthiness ..." (W3C 2013), is the basis for the representation of provenance within the GCIS. Relationships between URIs within the GCIS are represented in a triple store. A SPARQL endpoint allows this triple store to be queried, as described in these examples.

GCIS Development Effort

GCIS is written in Perl using the mojolicious web framework and uses many fine modules from the CPAN. It relies on PostgreSQL for data storage, and populates a Virtuoso triple store.

USGCRP contributions from : Reid Sherman : Technical Lead Andrew Buddenberg : Client development Bradley Akamine : Chief Digital Officer Kathryn Tipton : Software Engineer Amrutha Elamparuthy : Data Manager Tetherless World Constellation Ontology Engineering contributions from : Xiagoang (Marshall) Ma, Stephan Zednik, Peter Fox (and other team members) Jet Propulsion Laboratory Contributions from : Hook Hua, Gerald Manipon, and Brian Wilson (Caltech) Dexter Tan (Raytheon) Prior contributions from : Curt Tilmes : Visionary Robert Wolfe : Technical Lead Brian Duggan : System Engineer Steve Aulenbach : Data Curator Tania Sizer : Web Designer Rudy Estrada : System Administrator Travis Kuennen : System Administrator Amanda McQueen : Student Assistant Justin Goldstein : Data Curator Brent Newman : Data Coordinator Randall Sindlinger : CDI Lead Programmer (SSAI)

GCIS Version


Contacting us and contributing

If you're interested in contributing to the development and evolution of the Global Change Information System, please subscribe to our mailing list.
GCIS is also on GitHub, and we welcome contributions to the source code.

If you have other comments, questions, or feedback about the GCIS please use the form below.