National Oceanographic Data Center

The National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC) was one of the national environmental data centers operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The main NODC facility was located in Silver Spring, Maryland and was made up of five divisions.[1] The NODC also had field offices collocated with major government or academic oceanographic laboratories in Stennis Space Center, MS; Miami, FL; La Jolla, San Diego, California; Seattle, WA; Austin, Texas; Charleston, South Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia; and Honolulu, Hawaii. In 2015, NODC was merged with the National Climatic Data Center and the National Geophysical Data Center into the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).[2]

NOAA also operated two other data centers: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), Asheville, North Carolina and National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), Boulder, Colorado. In 2015, the three merged to form the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).[3] Also, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado is operated for NGDC by the University of Colorado through the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).

These discipline-oriented centers served as national repositories and dissemination facilities for global environmental data. The data archives amassed by the NODC and the other centers provide a record of Earth's changing environment, and support numerous research and operational applications and are still available through the NCEI. Working cooperatively, the centers provided data products and services to scientists, engineers, resource managers, policy makers, and other users in the United States and around the world.


Established in 1961, the NODC was originally an interagency facility administered by the U.S. Naval Hydrographic (later Oceanographic) Office. The NODC was transferred to NOAA in 1970 when NOAA was created by Executive Order by then-President, Richard Nixon. In the words of its charter, the NODC serves to "acquire, process, preserve, and disseminate oceanographic data." Its primary mission is to ensure that global oceanographic data sets collected at great cost are maintained in a permanent archive that is easily accessible to the world science community and to other users.[4][5]


The NODC's mission statement was To provide scientific stewardship of marine data and information.

Core description

The National Oceanographic Data Center, National Coastal Data Development Center (NCDDC) and NOAA Central Library, with its regional branch assets, were integrated to provide access to the world's most comprehensive sources of marine environmental data and information. NODC maintains and updates a national ocean archive with environmental data acquired from domestic and foreign activities and produces products and research from these data which help monitor global environmental changes. These data included physical, biological and chemical measurements derived from in situ oceanographic observations, satellite remote sensing of the oceans, and ocean model simulations. NODC personnel directly interacted with Federal, state, academic, and industrial oceanographic activities, represent NESDIS on various interagency domestic panels, committees and councils, and represent the United States in various international organizations, such as the International Oceanographic Data Exchange. The Data Center represents NESDIS and NOAA to the general public, government agencies, private institutions, foreign governments, and the private sector on matters involving oceanographic data.

Data holdings

The NODC managed the world's largest collection of publicly available oceanographic data. NODC holdings included in situ and remotely sensed physical, chemical, and biological oceanographic data from coastal and deep ocean areas. These were originally collected for a variety of operational and research missions by U.S. Federal agencies, including the Department of Defense (primarily the U.S. Navy); by State and local government agencies; by universities and research institutions; and private industry. NODC data holdings extended back over one hundred years, and the volume is expected to grow exponentially as new ocean observing systems are deployed.

Through NODC archive and access services these ocean data were reused to answer questions about climate change, ocean phenomena, and management of coastal and marine resources, marine transportation, recreation, national security, and natural disasters. Another significant user community was Education, where these data and information products help teach each new generation of students about the oceans. Requests for oceanographic data and information have increased each year since the Center was established in 1961. Access to these archives is still available through the NCEI.

International cooperation and data exchange

A significant percentage of the oceanographic data held by NODC was foreign. NODC acquired foreign data through direct bilateral exchanges with other countries, and through the facilities of the World Data Center for Oceanography,[6] Silver Spring, which is collocated with and operated by NODC.

There are three World Data Centers for Oceanography: World Data Center, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, World Data Center, Moscow, Russia, and World Data Center, Tianjin, People's Republic of China. They are part of the World Data Center System initiated in 1957 to provide a mechanism for data exchange, and they operate under guidelines issued by the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU).

Under NODC leadership, the Global Data Archeology and Rescue (GODAR) project grew into a major international program sponsored by the Inter-governmental Oceanographic Commission. GODAR is a comprehensive effort to locate, rescue, quality control, and disseminate historical global ocean profile data for use by the climate and global change research community.[7]

Data management for global change studies

The NODC provided data management support for major ocean science projects and promotes improved working relations with the academic ocean research community.

NOAA library and information network

The NODC also managed the NOAA Library and Information Network, which included the NOAA Central Library in Silver Spring, MD; regional libraries in Miami, FL and Seattle, WA; and field libraries or information centers at about 30 NOAA sites throughout the United States. The combined libraries contained millions of volumes including books, journals, CD-ROMs, DVDs, audio, and video tapes. These holdings are now managed by the NCEI.

User services

Each year the NODC responded to thousands of requests for oceanographic data and information. Copies of specified data sets or data selected from the NODC's archive databases were provided to users on various media types, or online. NODC data products were provided at prices that cover the cost of data selection and retrieval. However, data provided on the NODC public website is free of charge.

See also


  1. ^ "NODC Overview". Retrieved 2016-01-24.
  2. ^ "About the National Centers for Environmental Information | National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)". Retrieved 2016-01-24.
  3. ^ "About the National Centers for Environmental Information | National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)". Retrieved 2016-01-24.
  4. ^ "Dedication of the National Oceanographic Data Center" (PDF). 1961-01-16. Retrieved 2016-01-24.
  5. ^ "Hydro Bulletin : Dedication of the National Oceanographic Data Center : Photograph" (PDF). 1961-01-27. Retrieved 2016-01-24.
  6. ^ "World Data Center for Oceanography, Silver Spring". 2015-11-05. Retrieved 2016-01-24.
  7. ^ Andrew Allegra (2015-11-05). "International Activities". Retrieved 2016-01-24.
Environmental Science Services Administration

The Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA) was a United States Federal executive agency created in 1965 as part of a reorganization of the United States Department of Commerce. Its mission was to unify and oversee the meteorological, climatological, hydrographic, and geodesic operations of the United States. It operated until 1970, when it was replaced by the new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The first U.S. Government organization with the word "environment" in its title, ESSA was the first such organization chartered to study the global natural environment as whole, bringing together the study of the oceans with that of the both the lower atmosphere and the ionosphere. This allowed the U.S Government for the first time to take a comprehensive approach to studying the oceans and the atmosphere, also bringing together various technologies – ships, aircraft, satellites, radar, and communications systems – that could operate together in gathering data for scientific study.


EXPOCODE, or the "expedition code", is a unique alphanumeric identifier defined by the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC) of the US. The code defines a standard nomenclature for cruise labels of research vessels and intends to avoid confusion in oceanographic data management.

The code was used by international projects (WOCE, CarboOcean) and is considered a de facto standard in the international hydrographic community beginning with the Climate Variability Program (CLIVAR) and the EU-Project Eurofleets.

The format of an expocode for an oceanographic cruise is defined in the format NODCYYYYMMDD where:

NODC is NOAA's National Oceanographic Data Center's 4-character research vessel identifier, consisting of country and ship code

YYYYMMDD is the GMT date when the cruise left port.Example for a cruise of the US research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer, starting on 2011-02-19: 320620110219 (Code of US = 32, code of Palmer = 06, date when cruise starts 2011-02-19)

Global Oceanographic Data Archaeology and Rescue Project

The Global Oceanographic Data Archaeology and Rescue Project, or GODAR Project was established to increase the volume of historical oceanographic data available to climate change and other researchers. The project attempts to locate ocean profile and plankton data sets not yet in digital form, digitizes these data, and ensures their submission to national data centers and the World Data Center system (WDC). In addition, data on electronic media that are at risk of loss due to media degradation are also candidates for rescue.

Global Temperature-Salinity Profile Program

The Global Temperature-Salinity Profile Program (GTSPP) is a cooperative international project that seeks to develop and maintain a global ocean Temperature-Salinity resource with up-to-date and high quality data.


In oceanography, a halocline (from Greek hals, halos 'salt' and klinein 'to slope') is a subtype of chemocline caused by a strong, vertical salinity gradient within a body of water. Because salinity (in concert with temperature) affects the density of seawater, it can play a role in its vertical stratification. Increasing salinity by one kg/m3 results in an increase of seawater density of around 0.7 kg/m3.

In the midlatitudes, an excess of evaporation over precipitation leads to surface waters being saltier than deep waters. In such regions, the vertical stratification is due to surface waters being warmer than deep waters and the halocline is destabilizing. Such regions may be prone to salt fingering, a process which results in the preferential mixing of salinity.

In certain high latitude regions (such as the Arctic Ocean, Bering Sea, and the Southern Ocean) the surface waters are actually colder than the deep waters and the halocline is responsible for maintaining water column stability, isolating the surface waters from the deep waters. In these regions, the halocline is important in allowing for the formation of sea ice, and limiting the escape of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Haloclines are also found in fjords, and poorly mixed estuaries where fresh water is deposited at the ocean surface.

Integrated Taxonomic Information System

The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) is an American partnership of federal agencies designed to provide consistent and reliable information on the taxonomy of biological species. ITIS was originally formed in 1996 as an interagency group within the US federal government, involving several US federal agencies, and has now become an international body, with Canadian and Mexican government agencies participating. The database draws from a large community of taxonomic experts. Primary content staff are housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and IT services are provided by a US Geological Survey facility in Denver. The primary focus of ITIS is North American species, but many biological groups exist worldwide and ITIS collaborates with other agencies to increase its global coverage.

List of environmental websites

This list of environmental websites includes websites, blogs, podcasts and other web-based platforms associated with environmental issues.

National Centers for Environmental Information

The United States National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina, is the world's largest active archive of environmental data. In 2015 it was established from the merger of the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) and the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC). The current director is Mary Wohlgemuth.

National Climatic Data Center

The United States National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), previously known as the National Weather Records Center (NWRC), in Asheville, North Carolina, was the world's largest active archive of weather data. Starting as a tabulation unit in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1934, the climate records were transferred to Asheville in 1951, becoming named the National Weather Records Center (NWRC). It was later renamed the National Climatic Data Center, with relocation occurring in 1993. In 2015, it was merged with the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) and the National Oceanic Data Center (NODC) into the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

National Data Buoy Center

The National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS). NDBC designs, develops, operates, and maintains a network of data collecting buoys and coastal stations. The NBDC is located in southern Mississippi as a tenant at the John C. Stennis Space Center, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) facility.

National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service

The National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) was created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to operate and manage the United States environmental satellite programs, and manage the data gathered by the National Weather Service and other government agencies and departments.

National Geophysical Data Center

The United States National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) provided scientific stewardship, products and services for geophysical data describing the solid earth, marine, and solar-terrestrial environment, as well as earth observations from space. In 2015, NGDC was merged with the National Climatic Data Center and the National Oceanographic Data Center into the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

Ocean reanalysis

Ocean reanalysis is a method of combining historical ocean observations with a general ocean model (typically a computational model) driven by historical estimates of surface winds, heat, and freshwater, by way of a data assimilation algorithm to reconstruct historical changes in the state of the ocean.

Historical observations are sparse and insufficient for understanding the history of the ocean and its circulation. By utilizing data assimilation techniques in combination with advanced computational models of the global ocean, researchers are able to interpolate the historical observations to all points in the ocean. This process has an analog in the construction of atmospheric reanalysis and is closely related to ocean state estimation.


SeaDataNet is an international project of oceanography. Its main goal is to enable the scientific community to access historical datasets owned by national data centers.

Undersea mountain range

Undersea mountain ranges are mountain ranges that are mostly or entirely underwater, and specifically under the surface of an ocean. If originated from current tectonic forces, they are often referred to as a mid-ocean ridge. In contrast, if formed by past above-water volcanism, they are known as a seamount chain. The largest and best known undersea mountain range is a mid-ocean ridge, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It has been observed that, "similar to those on land, the undersea mountain ranges are the loci of frequent volcanic and earthquake activity".

Wave base

The wave base, in physical oceanography, is the maximum depth at which a water wave's passage causes significant water motion. For water depths deeper than the wave base, bottom sediments and the seafloor are no longer stirred by the wave motion above.

World Ocean Atlas

The World Ocean Atlas (WOA) is a data product of the Ocean Climate Laboratory of the National Oceanographic Data Center (U.S.). The WOA consists of a climatology of fields of in situ ocean properties for the World Ocean. It was first produced in 1994 (based on the earlier Climatological Atlas of the World Ocean), with later editions at roughly four year intervals in 1998, 2001, 2005, 2009, and 2013.

World Ocean Circulation Experiment

The World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) was a component of the international World Climate Research Program, and aimed to establish the role of the World Ocean in the Earth's climate system. WOCE's field phase ran between 1990 and 1998, and was followed by an analysis and modeling phase that ran until 2002. When the WOCE was conceived, there were three main motivations for its creation. The first of these is the inadequate coverage of the World Ocean, specifically in the Southern Hemisphere. Data was also much more sparse during the winter months than the summer months, and there was—and still to some extent—a critical need for data covering all seasons. Secondly, the data that did exist was not initially collected for studying ocean circulation and was not well suited for model comparison. Lastly, there were concerns involving the accuracy and reliability of some measurements. The WOCE was meant to address these problems by providing new data collected in ways designed to “meet the needs of global circulation models for climate prediction.”

World Ocean Database Project

The World Ocean Database Project, or WOD, is a project established by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). The project leader is Sydney Levitus who is director of the International Council for Science (ICSU) World Data Center (WDC) for Oceanography, Silver Spring. In recognition of the success of the IOC Global Oceanographic Data Archaeological and Rescue Project (GODAR project), a proposal was presented at the 16th Session of the Committee on International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE), which was held in Lisbon, Portugal, in October–November 2000, to establish the World Ocean Database Project. This project is intended to stimulate international exchange of modern oceanographic data and encourage the development of regional oceanographic databases as well as the implementation of regional quality control procedures. This new Project was endorsed by the IODE at the conclusion of the Portugal meeting, and the IOC subsequently approved this project in June 2001.

The World Ocean Database represents the world’s largest collection of ocean profile-plankton data available internationally without restriction. Data comes from the: (a) Sixty-five National Oceanographic Data Centers and nine Designated National Agencies (DNAs) (in Croatia, Finland, Georgia, Malaysia, Romania, Senegal, Sweden, Tanzania, and Ukraine), (b) International Ocean Observing Projects such as the completed World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) and Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS), as well as currently active programs such as CLIVAR and Argo, (c) International Ocean Data Management Projects such as the IOC/IODE Global Oceanographic Data Archaeology and Rescue Project (GODAR), and (d) Real-time Ocean Observing Systems such as the IOC/IODE Global Temperature-Salinity Profile Project (GTSPP). All ocean data acquired by WDC Silver Spring – USA are considered as part of the WDC archive and are freely available as public domain data.

Ocean zones
Sea level

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