Repurposing Oceanographic Data
The Shallow Water 2006 (SW06) experiment was carried on for a 3-month period off the coast of New Jersey. The primary purpose of the experiment was to study under-water acoustic propagation and non-linear internal wave physics. Data collection involved seven ships, 62 moorings, aricraft overflights, satellite coverage, and ten oceanographic gliders. Also involved were data-assimilating numerical modeling, real-time data communications from a number of shipboard experiments, and dozens of principal investigators. In many ways, SW06 was a short-term ocean observatory with a broad set of oceanographic instrumentation collecting data related to acoustic measurements, water-column velocity, temperature, salinity, water density, pressure, turbulence, satellite imagery, aircraft and ship-based photographs, and radar data. Furthermore, each data type varied in terms of storage format and associated metadata.
The Ocean Informatics Working Group is working to create a collaborative project between RPI and a subset of the SW06 group to investigate re-purposing the collected data so that other interested parties, including non-oceanographic researchers, can access it. As it stands, the collected data is of interest to other approaches, such as understanding climate. However, Challenges remain, including: understanding what needs to be changed in order for other researchers to be able to discern which data sets are of interest, interpreting which parameters are relevant to their projects, and assessing the quality of the data for a different approach.
The primary objectives in this collaboration were to (1) provide access to portions of the SW06 dataset that would be of use to other investigators, (2) learn more about the nature of a wide variety of raw oceanographic data sets and how difficult and of what value it will be to re-purpose or re-use of these data, and (3) investigate methodologies for visually browsing (through time and geographic location) an index of the data available. Work focused on an initial design of a data repository structure and front-end, with the next stage being a pilot study with related researchers to evaluate best practices in tagging the data for re-use.
Potential benefits to the WHOI oceanographers include the ability for researchers to more easily make their data more available to modelers. Another benefit to oceanography will be to provide some lessons learned for this sort of large scale data reuse project that will be very relevant large oceanographic observatory initiatives such as OOI and IOOS , leading to a set of best practices in data sharing more broadly.