NAO 216-101: Ocean Data Acquisitions

Issued 07/09/90; Effective 06/20/90

SECTION 1. PURPOSE.

.01 This Order establishes policies and procedures to ensure that NOAA ocean data collection activities including open-ocean, Great Lakes, coastal, and estuarine data collection activities support multiple uses of those data for purposes other than those for which they originally were collected.

.02 This policy will increase efficient uses of ocean data and will support effective management of the resources available to accomplish a variety of NOAA missions as well as to increase the usefulness of these data outside NOAA.

.03 This Order establishes the Standing Committee for Ocean Data Policy to coordinate NOAA-wide policy for the accurate and timely collection, quality assurance, archival, and distribution of ocean data (including physical, biological, chemical, geological, geophysical, and marine meteorological data).

SECTION 2. SCOPE.

.01 In order to assure the coordination of ocean data acquisition activities, this Order defines certain responsibilities of and procedures for all NOAA activities, including reimbursable programs for other agencies and NOAA funded contracts and grants, that involve the collection and archiving of ocean data from the open-ocean, Great Lakes, coastal waters, and estuaries.

.02 Ocean data collected from satellite-based platforms are not addressed in this Order. Those data streams are collected from readily identifiable platforms and involve differen data processing, distribution, and archiving issues from those associated with conventional ocean observations. Also, socioeconomic ocean data such as fishery catch statistics which are important to resource managers is not addressed in this Order.

SECTION 3. BACKGROUND.

.01 The present source of observations for understanding and forecasting the oceanic and marine atmospheric structure and variability, the dynamic interaction of the ocean and atmosphere, and climate and global change is a complex network of global satellite and ocean-based observations.

.02 Within NOAA, this network represents a composite of operational and research measurement systems and platforms operated by a variety of programs, each with different missions and objectives. This variety of observing systems and the large number of platform and data managers require coordination to provide for the accountability of collected data and to maximize the efficient operational use of available data, distribution of data to real-time and retrospective users, and the contribution to a focused national data management system.

SECTION 4. AUTHORITY.

NOAA is authorized to conduct ocean data collection and archiving activities under the following statutes, among others:

SECTION 5. DEFINITIONS.

.01 Real-time. Descriptive of data which meets operational forecasting, national processing center, and/or environmental quality monitoring requirements. Generally, the acceptable time lapse between observation and data receipt is hours or days for oceanographic data and minutes or hours for meteorological data including data at the air-sea interface.

.02 Retrospective. Descriptive of data which meets research, assessment, resource management and other applications, and/or data archive requirements. Generally, the acceptable time lapse between observation and data receipt is weeks or months or oceanographic data and days, weeks or months for meteorological data. Historical data sets can extend over many decades.

.03 Delayed real-time. Descriptive of data which has less urgency than real-time data but greater perishability than retrospective data.

.04 World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The WMO is an agency of the United Nations whose purpose is to coordinate, standardize, and improve meteorological services throughout the world.

.05 Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). The IOC is the United Nations organization for marine scientific affairs and related ocean services, training, and mutual assistance. The IOC establishes policies and guidelines for the exchange of oceanographic data and products between member countries.

.06 International Oceanographic Data Exchange (IODE). The IODE is an ongoing program of the IOC with a major objective of collecting, processing, archiving, retrieving, and exchanging oceanographic data and information on a worldwide basis aimed at rendering services to the scientific community, the offshore industry, and to the governments of member states.

.O7 International Global Ocean Services System (IGOSS). The IGOSS is a WMO/IOC conceptual network for exchanging oceanographic data in real time and delayed real-time between member countries in standard formats or codes. In practice, IGOSS uses the GTS for oceanographic data exchange.

.08 Global Telecommunications System (GTS). The GTS is one of the three principal elements of the WMO World Weather Watch program designed to make observational data and processed information available to WMO members for both operational and research purposes. The GTS offers the facilities for the rapid and reliable collection, exchange, and distribution of that data and information.

.09 BATHY/TESAC observations. BATHY ocean observations record temperature profiles usually with expendable or retrievable bathythermograph probes (XBTs or BTs). TESAC ocean observations record temperature, salinity, and current profiles usually with expendable or retrievable conductivity-temperature-depth probes (XCTDs or CTDs), acoustic Doppler profilers, expendable current profilers, or moored current profilers.

.10 SHIP code. Surface meteorological observations from ships, moored buoys, and selected automated coastal platforms are encoded in standard format (SHIP code) for brevity. These formats are established by the WMO.

.11 UA code. Upper atmosphere (UA) temperature, humidity, and wind observations from rawinsonde (balloon) soundings are encoded in standard format (UA code) for brevity. These formats established by the WMO.

.12 DRIBU code. Drifting buoy (DRIBU) observations typically including surface meteorological and surface/subsurface oceanographic data are encoded in standard format (DRIBU code) for brevity. These formats are established jointly by WMO and IOC.

.13 National Processing Centers. Major meteorological and oceanographic analysis and prediction facilities which process and distribute environmental data in real-time and delayed real-time.

.14 National Data Management Centers. Major meteorological and oceanographic archive facilities which process and distribute environmental data retrospectively.

.15 International Marine Meteorological (IMM) Exchange. Cooperating maritime Member States of WMO contribute nonreal-time archive quality SHIP data to eight international centers under the auspices of Resolution 35 of the Fourth World Meteorological Congress.

.16 GRIB code. The GRIB (Gridded Binary) code is a general purpose and bit-oriented data exchange format originally designed as an efficient vehicle for transmitting large volumes of gridded data to automated centers over high-speed telecommunications lines under protocols.

.17 BUFR code. The BUFR (Binary Universal Format for Records) is a code for transmitting data based on table-related concepts and allowing contents of the data to be defined within the message so that any ad hoc combination of elements can be reported. Each BUFR message is a string of binary numbers that are independent of any computer physical record, block, or file structure.

SECTION 6. POLICIES/PROCEDURES/RESPONSIBILITIES.

.01 Data needed to support "time-critical" NOAA operations such as those associated with its warning and forecasting missions or hazardous materials response activities will be made available to the responsible National Center(s) in order to provide real-time support to affected operations. This policy does not preclude the parallel transmission of observations to local users.

.02 Data sets of high utility for purposes in addition to those identified above in Section 6.01 are to be submitted to and archived by designated national data management centers. These national centers are identified in Section 6.05 of this Order. a. Data submission in real-time through national processing centers does not substitute for later submission of archive-quality data nor does data submission through national data management centers substitute for submission of data through national processing centers.

.03 NOAA managers of programs which conduct ocean data collection activities are responsible for assuring that data and related information with high utility for other users are available in a timely manner at national processing centers and national data centers and are documented and archived in designated national data management centers.

a. These managers will establish procedures to enforce this policy in their internal ocean data collection and research programs and in those of their contractors and grantees. Project or cruise instructions for NOAA vessels prepared by NOAA program offices will clearly identify specific data archival requirements and responsibilities of investigators and/or Chief Scientists.

b. These managers will also work with their principal investigators to assure that other data, which may not be appropriate for archival at national centers, are documented and archived within the established period of time at the principal investigator's or an associated institution in order that these data will be available for other uses upon request.

c. These managers will assure the quality of the ocean data which they and their contractors and grantees collect using the most appropriate available technology and shall document and submit summaries of their quality assurance activities to the archival data centers as specified by those centers.

.04 Real-Time and Delayed Real-Time Data. Data useful in marine warning/forecast, environmental monitoring, and resource management programs will be collected and distributed, using standard formats, in real-time or delayed real-time, as applicable.

a. National processing centers produce modified data sets and use the data in oceanic and atmospheric coastal/regional/global operational models. Due to the time criticality of operational models, data access must be real-time. Specific NOAA entities within this user group include: the NWS National Meteorological Center (NMC), the NOAA Ocean Products Center (OPC), the NOAA-Navy Joint Ice Center (JIC), and the NOAA Center for Ocean Analysis and Prediction (COAP).

b. Operational forecasters are responsible for issuing timely warnings, analyses, and forecasts. Due to the time criticality of these products and services, data access must be real-time. Specific NOAA entities within this user group include: NWS National Hurricane Center (NHC), NWS Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC), NOAA-Navy Joint Ice Center (JIC), and the NWS Weather Service Forecast Offices (WSFOs).

c. Resource managers are responsible for providing resource use assessments and management. These activities include managing the mineral and biological resources within the U.S. exclusive economic zone. In general, delayed real-time or retrospective access to data sets are acceptable, although instances occur when real-time data are required (e.g., determination of impacts of spills of oil and hazardous materials on living marine resources). Specific NOAA entities within this user group include: NMFS Fishery Regions, the NOS Office of Oceanography and Marine Assessment (OMA), the NOS Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), and the NOAA Center for Ocean Analysis and Prediction (COAP).

d. Environmental monitors are responsible for monitoring environmental quality in the U.S. exclusive economic zone. This user group requires real-time or delayed real-time access to data. A specific NOAA entity within this user group is the NOS Office of Oceanography and Marine Assessment (OMA).

e. Data needed for forecasting are to be submitted in real-time according to the operative NOAA instruction, for example the Office of NOAA Corps Operations Instruction 3142, "SEAS Data Collection and Transmission Procedures", or through the WMO/IOC Integrated Global Ocean Services System (IGOSS) and other WMO/GTS subsystems, as appropriate. Submission of data through IGOSS does not substitute for later submission of archive quality data. Surface and mixed-layer temperature, water level, salinity, and ocean current data are to be submitted in real-time along with standard surface meteorological observations.

1. Surface and mixed-layer temperature, salinity, and ocean current data should be transmitted at regular intervals in accordance with procedures specified by IGOSS. These BATHY/TESAC observations may be accumulated up to 48 hours before transmission to national processing centers.

2. Standard surface and upper-air meteorological observations are requested in the SHIP and UA codes within one hour of the observation or as otherwise prescribed by the WMO.

f. NOAA will make all relevant instructions and forms available to research vessel operators and will provide updates and changes as they are promulgated by the responsible international bodies.

g. Navigational and related information such as soundings of previously uncharted shoals are to be reported in accordance with the Hydrographic Manual, 4th ed., Section 5.9, pp. 5-24, and the Hydrographic Survey Guidelines Nos. 46 and 63. They are also to be sent to the Defense Mapping Agency following the "Guide to Marine Observing and Reporting, Publication 606 of the Defense Mapping Agency Hydrographic/Topographic Center", a copy of which should be available aboard every research vessel.

.05 Retrospective Data.

Retrospective access to data is required by the research community, climate/global change activities, and cartographic activities through designated national data management centers. These data are used weeks to decades after the initial data acquisition. These archived data sets usually have more stringent quality requirements than do real-time data. The following NOAA centers have been designated to receive data for archival: the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). In addition, there are a number of specialized data archives, such as the National Water Level Observation Network Archive. This policy does not preclude the parallel transmission of observations to these specialized archives.

a. Data sets should be accompanied by a brief description of the methods and techniques used for their collection and processing. This description should also include enough information to allow the potential user to determine data quality and/or special problems that might be encountered. Standard international formats shall be used where applicable.

b. Data submitted to the national data management centers are to be submitted via computer-compatible digital media when possible rather than as printed reports. Documentation must include information sufficient to fully describe the physical recording technique, data format, recording mode, blocking factor, and other pertinent items.

c. Data submitted to the national data management centers are to be submitted as soon as possible after initial collection but not later than within one year of that collection. Since appropriate time lapses will vary among different data sets and some data sets may require a longer period of time for submission, specific time lapses to accommodate particular data sets will be established by the Standing Committee for Ocean Data Policy.

d. The national data management centers receiving data sets will assure that inventories of data received are distributed to persons or programs providing the data, archived data and related information are accessible and available to other users in a timely and efficient manner either on the basis of exchange or in accordance with applicable cost recovery policies, and these data are preserved and properly managed to assure their quality.

.06 Types of Data Sets and Their Respective Users. The Appendix attached to this Order identifies data sets which are representative, but not all-inclusive, of ocean data covered by this Order.

.07 Responsibilities of All NOAA Organizational Elements. Heads of NOAA organizational elements and all other NOAA officials are responsible for ensuring that the provisions of this Order are followed whenever an ocean data collection activity is proposed for conduct by that element or is proposed for funding by that element to a non-NOAA entity.

.08 Principal Investigators. Principal investigators associated with NOAA ocean data collection activities are responsible for meeting all legal requirements for submission of data and other research results which are imposed on them by a foreign government and which they accept as a condition of that government's granting of a research clearance. Each principal investigator is responsible for his obligations in this respect, including those specified in NDM 17-17, with the assistance of the Department of State and NOAA, as necessary.

SECTION 7. STANDING COMMITTEE FOR OCEAN POLICY.

.01 Establishment. The Standing Committee for Ocean Data Policy is established by this Order to coordinate and review those guidelines established in this policy and to propose necessary policy revisions. The Committee has NOAA-wide representation and is responsible for the coordination and review of those guidelines identified in this Order and for proposing necessary revisions.

.02 Composition. The Committee is comprised of one representative of each NOAA line organization, one representative from the Office of NOAA Corps Operations, and one representative from the Office of the Under Secretary/Administrator. Representatives will be the Under Secretary, the Assistant Administrators, the Director of NOAA Corps Operations, or their designees.

.03 Chairperson. The Committee is chaired by a Committee representative. The chair will rotate biennially among Committee representatives on the basis of a procedure established by the Committee.

.04 Responsibilities.

a. The Committee is responsible for reviewing guidelines, procedures, and issues related to the implementation of this ocean data collection policy, preparing recommendations for policy implementation, and coordinating NOAA-wide review and approval of those recommendations. The Committee is also responsible for identifying and reviewing revisions to this ocean data collection policy as necessary, and coordinating NOAA-wide clearance of those revisions.

b. All Committee members have equal responsibility and standing in Committee activities with the exception of the Chairperson who has additional responsibility for coordinating Committee activities (e.g., scheduling of meetings, recording and distribution of minutes, coordination of formal correspondence).

c. Administrative and staff support for the Committee will be the responsibility of the Line Office whose representative is acting as Chairperson of the Committee. Formal communication of Committee activities and recommendations will be transmitted to other NOAA organizational elements under the signature of the Assistant Administrator of the Line Office providing the Chairperson of the Committee.

SECTION 8. EFFECT ON OTHER ISSSUANCES.

.01 This NAO is consistent with NOAA Circular 71­106 (filed as NDM 16­11) entitled " NOAA Policy on Management of Environmental Data and Environmental Science Information", dated December 9, 1971.

.02 This NAO is consistent with NAO 17­17, "Guidelines for the Management and Utilization of the NOAA Fleet and Charter Vessels", Sec. 10.

SIGNED,

Director, Office of Administration

Attachment/Appendix (See below)

Office of Primary Interest:
National Oceanographic Data Center (E/OCx5)


Appendix

Types of Data Sets and Their Respective Users.

The following subparagraphs identify ocean data sets covered by this Order and their real-time and retrospective NOAA users. This list of data sets is representative but not all-inclusive of ocean data covered by this Order.

a. Ocean physical data. Includes measurements of temperature, salinity, light transmissivity, turbidity, ocean waves, pressure, sea level, sound speed, circulation.

Real-time users: National Processing Centers
Operational Forecasters
Environmental Monitors
HAZMAT

Delayed real-time users: Resource Managers
National Processing Centers
Environmental Monitors

Retrospective users:
NODC

b. Ocean chemistry data. Includes measurements of nutrients (such as phosphates, nitrites, nitrates, and silicates), chemical tracers (such as helium, tritium, freon, and argon), pollutants (such as petroleum hydrocarbons, organochloride and organophosphorous pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, and heavy metals/particulates). Data may represent chemicals in water samples, marine sediments, or biota.

Real-time users: National Processing Centers
Environmental Monitors

Delayed real-time users: Resource Managers

Retrospective users: NODC (water samples, biota); NGDC (marine sediments)

c. Ocean biology data. Includes measurements of primary productivity, pigment concentrations of phytoplankton, biomass (phytoplankton, zooplankton, benthos, and nekton), and bioluminescence. Note: Fishery catch statistics are confidential (NOAA Directive 88-30) and therefore not to be sent to NESDIS centers.

Real-time users: National Processing Centers
Delayed real-time users: Resource Managers
Retrospective users: NODC

Appendix

d. Surface and upper-air meteorological data. Includes measurements of air temperature, sea surface temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind velocity, precipitation, waves, weather (past and present), visibility, clouds, ice accretion, sea ice, and solar radiation.

Real-time users: National Processing Centers
Operational Forecasters
Environmental Monitors

Delayed real-time users: Resource Managers

Retrospective users: NCDC

e. Geophysical data. Includes measurements of bathymetry, magnetics, gravity, seismic, and other quantitative geophysical data.

Real-time users: Operational Forecasters (NTWC)

Delayed real-time users: C&GS, AOML, PMEL

Retrospective users: NGDC

f. Geological data. Includes measurements of station locations, collection/storage locations, and preliminary descriptions of seafloor samples recovered.

Retrospective users: NGDC

g. Sea Ice and Other Glaciological data. Includes measurements of sea ice, icebergs, ice shelves, and associated physical oceanographic and meteorological data.

Real-time users: National Processing Centers
Operational Forecasters
Environmental Monitors

Delayed real-time users: Resource Managers

Retrospective users: NSIDC