As defined in Chapter 1, interfacing of geophysical and ecological data is the coordination, combination, or integration of such data for the purposes of modeling, correlation, pattern analysis, hypothesis testing, and field investigation at various scales (Figure 8.1). The data being interfaced can be products of a single, integrated study or can be derived from several studies performed at different times or places. Similarly, the data could have been collected with the interfacing effort in mind, or for other purposes entirely. This deliberately broad definition of interfacing is intended to fit as many situations as possible. As discussed in greater detail below, the specific questions scientists will ask and the ways in which they will therefore endeavor to integrate data are often ill-defined and constantly changing (see Box 8.1). As a result, no single narrowly framed definition and no mechanistic prescription or solution will be of much lasting use to scientists contending with the problems related to interfacing.
At its simplest level, interfacing involves the identification, accessing, and combination of data. However, in practice these seemingly uncomplicated activities can be technically complex, stretching the limits of existing knowledge and the capabilities of available hardware and software