“Context” is an elusive concept in Information Science –often invoked, and yet rarely explained. In this paper we take a domain analytic approach to examine five sub-disciplines within Earth Systems Science to show how the contexts of data production and use impact the value of data. We argue simply that the value of research data increases with their use. Our analysis is informed by two economic perspectives: first, that data production needs to be situated within a broader information economy; and second, that the concept of anti-fragility helps explain how data increase in value through exposure to diverse contexts of use. We discuss the importance of these perspectives for the development of information systems capable of facilitating interdisciplinary scientific work, as well as the design of sustainable cyberinfrastructures.