Review of Sinha et al. – “An Ontology Design Pattern for Surface Water Features”

In “An Ontology Design Pattern for Surface Water Features” (2014), Sinha et al. proposed an ontology of Surface Water to generalize distinguishable characteristics with an aim to make it interoperable between different cultures and languages, as well as to help build the Semantic Web. To achieve this, the authors distinguished the container from the water body, separating them in two distinct parts; the Dry module referencing to the terrain and the Wet module referencing to the water body. They also emphasize that the Wet module is dependent on the Dry module to exist, meaning they are superposed when the former is present.

The article provides a great approach to analyze the ontology of surface water features by generalizing both the Dry and Wet module in a limited number of classes while also preserving a sufficient number of defining features. An interesting example would be in their characterization of a water body, which even encompasses endorheic basins, in other words a drainage basin that has no outflow to another water body, as they didn’t specify the need for it to have an outlet point. With that said, while this ontology mentions that water movement is dictated by gravity, there are some instances of water bodies flowing uphill, such as a river under the ice sheet of Antarctica or the flow reversal in a water body following an cataclysm. In that case, this would challenge the assumption that water always flows from a high point to a low point. 

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