Standards, Services, and Science

Science Center Objects

Scientists spend considerable time managing the vast amount of data they collect. The volume of scientific data has increased substantially over the past decade due to advances in data collection technology and in the breadth of output produced by models. At the same time, the scientific community has worked to make it easier for the public to obtain data that were once available only by sending a specific request to the data holder, and to deliver those data in ways that make them discoverable, accessible, and usable by others. 

man walking along wet sand on beach wearing a backpack with an antenna sticking pout of it

USGS scientist Daniel Hoover mapping the beach at Santa Cruz with a GPS-equipped backpack unit.

(Credit: Andrew Stevens, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)

COAWST Modeling System graphic

 COAWST model predictions of wave heights, water levels, bottom stress, and changes to the seafloor during Hurricane Sandy. These results help scientists understand the larger-scale impacts from severe storms.

(Public domain.)

The CMHRP has long participated in efforts to build better standards, tools, and techniques for delivering oceanographic model and observational data. In 2003, the CMHRP participated in the development of the first standards for atmospheric and oceanographic models, ensuring that any ocean model output could be represented and delivered via web services in a common form. In 2008, these standards were adopted for delivery of gridded data by the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System, a consortium of 17 Federal agencies and 11 Regional Associations. There are now many software packages that incorporate these services and standards, enabling web applications and scientific analysis and visualization workflows to be developed without any knowledge of model-specific code.

ISO metadata that describe these CMHRP data are harvested by catalog services such as ScienceBase,, and that extend beyond the CMHRP, allowing discovery and access by any scientist or web developer creating applications for end users. 

CMHRP researchers are taking advantage of this common framework in a number of ways. A CMHRP Oceanographic Model and Data Portal allows users to discover, visualize, and download data from models and observed time series data. The images displayed on the map are created dynamically using Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) services, allowing users to change the color mapping on the fly to reveal features of interest. The same services may be consumed in other web applications or in systems such as ArcGIS, MATLAB, R, and Python, allowing CMHRP data products to be used effectively by a variety of communities.

Data that are discoverable and accessible via web services enable new powerful workflows to be created. A "science notebook," written in Python, combines analysis and visualization commands and output in a single document that can be executed and reproduced by others. 

The CMHRP continues to play a leading role in development of standardized services, tools, and techniques for making science more efficient. Work in the future should continue to build on successes thus far, expanding the approach to new types of data and new groups within the USGS and in the geoscience community. 


Anti-fouling treatment is applied to a sensor on a platform

Anti-fouling treatment is applied to a sensor on a platform about to be deployed off Fire Island, NY in 2012.  The data collected is part of a study of the coastal processes that mobilize and transport sediment in the region

(Credit: Sandra Brosnahan, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center. Public domain.)