23rd Conference on IIPS


NOAA National Climatic Data Center's marine data services: history, challenges and vision

Anne M. Waple, STG, Inc., Asheville, NC; and A. Hall, S. Ansari, S. A. Del Greco, D. Manns, and R. Baldwin

NOAA's National Climatic Data Center archives global surface marine data and integrated marine products. Data from tethered and drifting buoys, ships and satellites are archived and distributed. In addition, a comprehensive data rescue program is serving to digitize data that either pre-date the digital era, or more recent data that are not transmitted in near real-time. A comprehensive and coordinated effort is underway to integrate marine products and provide data interoperability using innovative data management and delivery methods.

Surface marine data include elements such as surface air temperature, sea surface temperature, wind speed, wind direction, visibility, dew point, cloud cover, wave heights and swell, weather conditions and sea level pressure etc. Sea ice charts and polar ice data are also in NCDC's archives. Data from different sources and different periods or projects are presently archived in 41 datasets, including a dataset, which integrates these data, the International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (ICOADS -http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/documentlibrary/marine-doc.html). These marine data are currently available through NCDC's Climate Data Online service (http://hurricane.ncdc.noaa.gov/CDO/cdo).

Different data sources that NCDC supports and archives include ship data from the US Navy and international military ships, the Volunteer Observation Ship (VOS) Program and its subset of ships in the VOSClim project, buoy data from international sources as well as from the US National Data Buoy Center and satellite data from NOAA and NASA satellites.

NCDC is currently undertaking a comprehensive effort to re-evaluate its marine data services and is planning increased coordination over the marine data program. An initial project is re-assessing the Volunteer Observing Ships Climate (VOSClim) Project data services. NCDC serves as the global Data Assembly Center for the VOSClim project and improvements to this service will be illustrated during the presentation. VOSClim ships provide extensive metadata on their instrumentation and observation practices, as well as photographs of instrument location etc. The project's primary function is to provide high-quality, well-documented marine data to verify other marine observations, including in-situ data, satellite retrievals and model forecast output. NCDC is making increasing use of web-services and open source methods to serve up the data and increase its accessibility across the broad range of users. In designing new data services for VOSClim, we are leveraging methods and structure off a recently developed Severe Weather Data Inventory at NCDC. Adding GIS functionality to an Oracle database permits data intercomparison in the spatial domain - a key advantage to the VOSClim project.

Continuing challenges in the marine data environment include a wide variety of data formats, metadata availability and design, and sparse or temporally and spatially disparate network coverage and resolution. Thoughtful design in our data services will aim to address issues of format inconsistencies and work is underway to increase metadata availability. A focused effort is also in place to digitize data to fill in temporal and spatial gaps in marine data. High quality in-situ data should be widely available to compare to satellite observations and this will be of increasing use in the coming years and decades as more sophisticated satellite observation platforms are launched.

Our vision for the future includes complete data interoperability and seamless data access for our clients. As well as a broad overview of our marine resources at NCDC, this presentation will focus on using the VOSClim project as a test-bed to implement improved data intercomparison capabilities and innovative, open source, web-based data services.

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Session 3B, Challenges in Data Access, Distribution, and Use
Tuesday, 16 January 2007, 8:30 AM-12:00 PM, 217A

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