What data can be archived at the NOAA Data Centers?

NODC Current Archiving Scope

The NODC provides data management services (acquisition, processing, quality control, archival preservation, distribution) for physical, chemical and biological data from the world oceans and adjacent waters.

Certain types of digital data products, such as oceanographic atlases, are archived and distributed by NODC. The NODC accepts data extending landward to the coastal limits of tidal influence in estuaries and rivers.

NODC's primary interest is data from the sea surface to the sea floor. Air-sea and sea-seafloor interface data are accepted when directly related to water column or biological measurements.

Physical: data that quantify the physical characteristics of ocean water masses. These data include measured and derived values of temperature, salinity, pressure, light transmission or attenuation, directions and speeds of ocean currents, winds, and wave, etc. Measurements are taken from a variety of platforms (e.g., ships, buoys, aircraft, satellites) carrying an ever-expanding collection of samplers and sensors, including expendable Bathythermographs (XBT), Conductivity-Temperature-Depth (CTD) sensors and bottle rosettes, current profilers, radiometers and other remote sensors on earth orbiting satellites.

Chemical: data on naturally-occurring and anthropogenic chemical substances that quantify the chemical characteristics of the water column, biota and interstitial waters of marine sediments. These data include dissolved gases, pH, alkalinity, nutrients, dissolved organic and inorganic matter, particulate organic and inorganic matter, trace metals, and marine pollutants. As with physical data, many platforms support acquisition of samples for chemical analyses using many methodologies (e.g., titration, mass spectroscopy, gas chromatography).

Biological: data on the geographic and temporal distribution of all groups of marine biota, primary organic production, concentration of metabolites, biomass, population-community-ecosystem surveys and monitoring programs. These data includes measurements of light attenuation, fluorescence, and ocean color. Data on substratum characteristics are acquired and archived by NODC only when they are included as habitat descriptors of benthic communities or as part of water column related studies.

Other Data Centers’s current scope:

Other data related to marine meteorology or to marine geology and geophysics may be archived respectively by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), Asheville, NC, or the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), Boulder, CO. Sea ice data are archived by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), which is operated for the NGDC by the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO. NODC routinely forwards meteorological, geological, geophysical and ice data to the appropriate data center.

NODC Archiving Metadata Requirements:

  • Providing standardized metadata (ISO 19115 or FGDC) in xml or text files is preferred over non-standardized metadata, although we also will accept text files. If you have ISO or FGDC files to document data, you do not need to complete an NODC Electronic Data Documentation Form or Submission Information Form, both of which are available from our website. NODC is working on the Send2NODC web application that is designed to help document datasets into the ISO19115 standard format.
  • Always provide the maximum available metadata, including methodologies, units of measure, types of instruments used to collect, sample and process data. The NODC 'brief access record', which includes only the elements viewable from our online Ocean Archive System, is just that -- a tool for us to be able to rapidly characterize a new data collection for discovery and tracking. Extended metadata that come with data files are the key to understanding and using data.
  • When documenting data, try to image someone reading the metadata in 75 years and that metadata is the only resource available for understanding those documented data.
  • NODC uses the Submission Information Form to document recurring, automated data acquisition and ingest processing. If you have an ongoing data collection activity that needs to be documented on some periodic basis (e.g., an observing system that collects data continuously), NODC can work with you to set up a mechanism to periodically harvest and archive meaningful subsets of the data stream.
  • NOAA publications and related grey literature are welcome, although NODC may decline to include materials that have copyright restrictions from the archives unless permission is granted by the copyright owner.
  • Send questions about metadata and archiving data to NODC.DataOfficer@noaa.gov.

What data formats can NODC use for archive?

  • NODC archives tabular data, GIS products, still images, satellite products, video data (with difficulty), and documentation (Technical Reports, cruise reports).
  • NODC retains environmental data records for at least 75 years. Non-proprietary data formats are preferred.
  • NODC archives all data received 'as is': if you send .mdb files, a copy of those .mdb files will be archived for at least 75 years. If resources allow, NODC may translate from one format to another (e.g., MS Access .mdb file to multiple .csv files with relationship map).
  • NODC netCDF formats support long term preservation and access. netCDF with CF-extension have become a preferred format because they are readable on a variety of platforms with many tools, are self-documenting, and support many current web services. NODC worked with a wide community to develop several netCDF template structures for different types of data. See www.nodc.noaa.gov/data/formats/netcdf/.
  • Virtually all NODC archival data are made freely available to all users. NODC will consider exceptions to this policy, which requires approval from the NODC Director prior to acquisition by NODC. Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Exceptions require documentation of the relevant federal law, regulation or administrative order that authorizes limiting access, conditions that allow NODC to release data, and an alternate point-of-contact for the same data. NODC is seeking clarification about the implications of the Freedom of Information Act on this policy from the Office of General Counsel.
  • Contact NODC.DataOfficer@noaa.gov for details about specific formats for your data OR with any other questions about NODC archival practices or requirements.

How to get a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for an archived dataset?

  • The NOAA Data Centers are working with a cross-NOAA team of experts on a pilot project to mint DOIs and develop a Data Citation Procedural Directive for NOAA-archived datasets.  If you are interested in getting a DOI, please contact the NOAA DOI team at NOAA.Data.IDs@noaa.gov and see the EDM wiki: https://geo-ide.noaa.gov/wiki/index.php?title=Data_Citation for details.  The team will consider the request on a case-by-case basis, but plans to move toward a more fully operational state by FY15 where all appropriate NOAA-archived datasets can receive a DOI.