The Scientific Variables Ontology (SVO) is a mechanism for storing the conceptual information necessary for identifying, disambiguating, and assembling scientific variables. SVO is a successor to the Geoscience Ontology and extends the principles introduced in the CF standard names and the CSDMS standard names (CSN); whereas the aforementioned naming efforts relied on encoding scientific variables using controlled vocabularies and one-dimensional strings, the SVO is terminology-agnostic and encodes relational and contextual information via the Resource Description Framework (RDF), resulting in a richer representation with more degrees of freedom. SVO is a critical tool for semantic mediation, providing the language to link unstructured information contained in large corpora to structured information captured in data sets and used by computational models. Along with other interpretative tools, SVO is designed to enable automated alignment and integration of distributed scientific information.

Although the ontology is currently populated with (mostly) terminology from various subfields of earth sciences, the scope of the upper level modular ontology is greater than the vocabulary present. The SVO is centered around the idea of providing a blueprint for constructing custom variables, and it is designed with this application in mind. Different tools for allowing such personalized or automated ontology constructions are currently in development and will be posted here in the near future.