812 The National Oceanographic Data Center and National Data Buoy Center: Operational, in-situ observations – real-time and archived

Wednesday, 26 January 2011
William H. Burnett, NOAA/NDBC, Stennis Space Center, MS; and K. Casey, R. Bouchard, T. Ryan, and R. V. Hervey

Since 1970, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC) has been archiving marine observations collected by the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC). Despite the length of this archival collection, it fails to meet many of the standards set by NOAA and the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) for a robust climate data record. These standards include regularly assessing the quality of data and preserving the detailed history of local conditions, instruments, operating procedures, data processing algorithms, and other factors pertinent to interpreting that data.

To better meet these climate requirements and ensure the preservation of real-time marine observations for future climate service needs, NODC and NDBC began in 2010 to modernize and update their archival processes. First, rather than archive only a subset of the data stream that passed a series of specific quality controls, the entire data stream will be preserved with the quality flags appended and detailed information about the observing platforms intact. Keeping the full set of observations and metadata allows users to perform their own quality checks and procedures, enables broader application of the data, and ensures full traceability of the data to the original observations. This increased attention to good data stewardship will also allow users to identify and account for inhomogeneities in the data records contributing to reducing uncertainty in assessing and predicting climate change. Second, Network Common Data Form (netCDF) files, compliant with Climate and Forecast (CF) metadata standards, have been selected as the archival format. Fully self-describing, CF-compliant netCDF has become the de facto standard in the modeling and satellite communities and in a growing number of in situ observing programs. CF-compliant netCDF will also allow the organizations to efficiently and effectively archive the growing number and expanding diversity of observations. NDBC has seen the growth of the number of observing stations from about 250 in 2005 to more than 700 in 2010. NDBC had traditionally focused on surface meteorological observations, but now handles physical and chemical oceanographic data. Finally, the data will be provided by the full range of interoperable data services, including the Open Geospatial Consortium's Sensor Observation Service (SOS), Web Mapping Service (WMS), and Web Coverage Service (WCS); and Open-source Project for a Network Data Access Protocol (OPeNDAP).

These updates are expected to become operational early in 2011 and will allow NODC, whose mission is to provide scientific stewardship of marine data and information, and NDBC, whose mission is to provide marine meteorological, oceanographic and geophysical observations accurately and in real-time, to work together to effectively and efficiently serve the needs of the national and international climate community.

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