NOAA expands its World Ocean Database

Update adds 29 new categories of data

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a major update to its World Ocean Database, a repository of information dating back to 1800 and widely used by climate scientists and weather forecasters around the world.

The update, the first since 2005, captures 29 different categories of data from the world’s oceans, including oxygen levels, temperatures, salinity and information on gases and isotopes. The World Ocean Database 2009 provides more than 9 million temperature profiles and approximately 3.5 million salinity reports.

The database, compiled by scientists at NOAA’s Ocean Climate Laboratory, is available to the public but was not designed for neophytes. For starters, the database lacks a graphical interface. Instead, users select data categories and variables by moving through lists and checkboxes. When the query is complete, users can access a geographic distribution map and can optionally instruct the program to extract the underlying data.

The user will then be notified via e-mail when the data is ready to download. Individual data files can also be downloaded in the compressed GZIP format.

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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