|COMMUNITY WHITE PAPER||10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.84|
Metadata Management in Global Distributed Ocean Observation Networks
Derrick Snowden(1), Mathieu Belbeoch(2), Bill Burnett(3), Thierry Carval(4), John Graybeal(5), Ted Habermann(6), Helen Snaith(7), Hester Viola(8), Scott Woodruff(9)
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Many elements of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) were designed to support weather forecasting, maritime safety, or other short-term operational requirements. Others evolved from research projects where the primary deliverable was a scientific manuscript rather than a sustained data stream. These data systems provide supplementary information, or metadata, designed to serve particular users and the detail and form of this metadata is typically only sufficient to satisfy the application for which the data system was initially designed. This has resulted in a collection of metadata that may be inadequate in scope or in level of detail to support broader user requirements, and generally does not conform to modern national or international standards. This makes it difficult to understand and use the data effectively and creates obstacles to meaningful data integration.
Climate data, on the other hand, needs to be used, and useful, for decades (if not centuries) into the future. Data sets collected today must be documented and described by accurate and complete metadata in order to ensure that they remain available and useful well into the future, and possibly for yet unimagined applications.
Other contributions to this conference have made a compelling case for the sustained ocean observations community to mature and modernize their approach to data stewardship so that data is available, discoverable and useful in perpetuity . Metadata and metadata standards are an integral part of this long-term vision and it is a thesis of this paper that current metadata collection and management practices are insufficient. Significant uncertainties in the global ocean in-situ climate record can be traced to poor metadata. Continuing current practices risks invalidating or casting doubt on recent scientific discoveries (because they are not reproducible) and preventing new ones (because the data may not be decipherable in the future). Actions necessary to prevent this outcome are the responsibility of scientists collecting the data, program managers funding the campaigns, data managers distributing data, and archive centers preserving data. Furthermore, this responsibility for action is spread equally across these roles, and extends to international organizations responsible for managing many ocean data and metadata international, including the Joint WMO-IOC (World Meteorological Organization - International Oceanographic Commission) Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM).
Through the use of historical and current examples, we will highlight some of the risks due to poor metadata, show some recent improvements, and point to more improvements, including changes to operational procedures and new technologies that should be adopted over the next ten years.
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This paper shall be cited as:
Snowden, D. & Co-Authors (2010). "Metadata Management in Global Distributed Ocean Observation Networks" in Proceedings of OceanObs’09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society (Vol. 2), Venice, Italy, 21-25 September 2009, Hall, J., Harrison, D.E. & Stammer, D., Eds., ESA Publication WPP-306, doi:10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.84
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