Responsible National Oceanographic Data Centre
ISDM in Canada became a Responsible National Oceanographic Data Centre (RNODC) for Drifting Buoy Data on behalf of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in January 1986. The purpose of this Web site is to describe the activities of the RNODC-ISDM in acquiring and making drifting buoy data available to the international scientific community.
Table of contents
- Responsible National Oceanographic Data Centre
- The concept of a continually updated archive
- Interactions with other programs
The RNODC is a national data centre assisting the World Data Centres. This assistance may be provided directly to the WDCs for Oceanography in support of their mission, it may be provided directly to other Member States to assist them with their particular requirements for getting data into or from the exchange system or it may be provided directly to an international scientific program of behalf of the WDCs for Oceanography. Usually an RNODC will provide services which can be viewed as a combination of two or more of the above.
The RNODC Scheme was developed to enable the international exchange system to cope with the increasing variety and volume of oceanographic data being collected. The primary function of the RNODCs is to aid the WDCs for Oceanography. Some RNODCs will provide services for requirements which change little if at all over the years. Other RNODCs will perform a set of services which meet short term needs of the international exchange system and have finite duration.
With the advance of technology, the complexity of problems being addressed today, and the increasing need for users to be provided with information and interpretation of data, many data centres find they can not maintain the expertise in the data centre to meet the requirements. As a result, some centres have adopted the practice of entering a joint program with an oceanographic research establishment to provide RNODC services. This model has also increased the flexibility of the system to provide the necessary services to the international marine community.
The concept of continuously updated oceanographic data has arisen as a result of requirements for data to be made available to a variety of users soon after its collection. This sort of requirements has traditionally been associated with such "operational" requirements as weather forecasting, ship routing, and prediction of weather windows for conducting weather sensitive offshore operations. In fact, scientific research programs are now developing their own requirements for "operational" or near real time data. For example, the "operational" data can be used to discover the location or the occurrence of a particular ocean process that is under investigation. Once the occurrence of the process is found, then more intense, precisely directed investigation and data collection can be initiated as is the case in some of the current El Niño investigations.
There is thus a clear benefit to science programs in making oceanographic data available in real or near real time. It is clearly not easy to do this. It involves getting data out of processing systems that were not designed for this need and can not provide fully analysed and quality controlled data in the necessary time frame. It has therefore been perceived that one must sacrifice quality for timeliness.
The continuously updated archive concept attempts to rationalize this situation and present a pragmatic solution. The basic principle of the concept is that data are captured and entered in the archive at the earliest possible point and then are replaced by higher quality versions of the data as they become available. ISDM has adopted the concept of the continuously updated archive for our drifting buoy file.
In order to play effectively its role as a RNODC for Drifting Buoys, ISDM participates in various international programs which promote the utilization of drifting buoy technology in observing the ocean physical characteristics and the exchange of data in real-time.
The main working groups for drifting buoy data is the Data Buoy Co-operation Panel. ISDM is an active member of that Panel and provides data and information to help Member Countries in achieving their goal.
Much of the DBCP's work in the ocean is done through several Action Groups. In support of WMO and IOC programs, each group maintains an observational buoy program supplying data for real-time applications or research purposes. Some of the Action Groups for which ISDM produces a monthly maps showing their activities are the International Arctic Buoy Programme (IABP), the International Programme for Antarctic Buoys (IPAB), the International South Atlantic Buoy Programme (ISABP), the International Buoy Programme for the Indian Ocean (IBPIO) and the European Group on Ocean Stations (EGOS).
ISDM archives all of the information coming to it associated with the data. Therefore, all of the data quality flags and origination information is included in the archives. Because of the size of the archive, ISDM has a number of data files related to drifting buoys.
Real-time data are received via the GTS using the BUOY code form. From the start of the use of drifting buoys many reported their data in real-time (usually within hours of collection). Besides drifting buoys, other platforms have made use of the BUOY code (or its predecessors) including sailing ships and moored buoys. All of this information is stored in the real-time archives and the source can be determined by the identifier.
Although ISDM was officially recognized as an RNODC in 1986, our archive started in late 1978 with the FGGE program. When this program finished there was a reduction in the number of buoys deployed, until TOGA started and since then has grown steadily. At the end of 1998, there were 13 million messages in the archive which is growing at the rate of 100,000 messages per month.