eddy4R 0.2.0: a DevOps model for community-extensible processing and analysis of eddy-covariance data based on R, Git, Docker, and HDF5
Large differences in instrumentation, site setup, data format, and operating system stymie the adoption of a universal computational environment for processing and analyzing eddy-covariance (EC) data. This results in limited software applicability and extensibility in addition to often substantial inconsistencies in flux estimates. Addressing these concerns, this paper presents the systematic development of portable, reproducible, and extensible EC software achieved by adopting a development and systems operation (DevOps) approach. This software development model is used for the creation of the eddy4R family of EC code packages in the open-source R language for statistical computing. These packages are community developed, iterated via the Git distributed version control system, and wrapped into a portable and reproducible Docker filesystem that is independent of the underlying host operating system. The HDF5 hierarchical data format then provides a streamlined mechanism for highly compressed and fully self-documented data ingest and output.
The usefulness of the DevOps approach was evaluated for three test applications. First, the resultant EC processing software was used to analyze standard flux tower data from the first EC instruments installed at a National Ecological Observatory (NEON) field site. Second, through an aircraft test application, we demonstrate the modular extensibility of eddy4R to analyze EC data from other platforms. Third, an intercomparison with commercial-grade software showed excellent agreement (R2 = 1.0 for CO2 flux). In conjunction with this study, a Docker image containing the first two eddy4R packages and an executable example workflow, as well as first NEON EC data products are released publicly. We conclude by describing the work remaining to arrive at the automated generation of science-grade EC fluxes and benefits to the science community at large.
This software development model is applicable beyond EC and more generally builds the capacity to deploy complex algorithms developed by scientists in an efficient and scalable manner. In addition, modularity permits meeting project milestones while retaining extensibility with time.