REVIEW OF NOAA’S NATIONAL GEOPHYSICAL DATA CENTER

Committee to Review NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center

Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data

Board on Earth Sciences and Resources

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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REVIEW OF NOAA’S NATIONAL GEOPHYSICAL DATA CENTER Committee to Review NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data Board on Earth Sciences and Resources Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 FIFTH STREET, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under Contract No. 50-DGNA-1-90024, Task Order T0012. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. ISBN 0-309-08911-5 (Book) ISBN 0-309-50661-1 (PDF) Additional copies of this report are available from: The National Academies Press 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Box 285 Washington, DC 20055 (800) 624-6242 (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area) http://www.nap.edu Copyright 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE TO REVIEW NOAA’S NATIONAL GEOPHYSICAL DATA CENTER FERRIS WEBSTER, Chair, University of Delaware, Lewes J.-BERNARD MINSTER, Vice-Chair, University of California, San Diego TIMOTHY K. AHERN, IRIS Data Management System, Seattle, Washington CLAUDIA J. ALEXANDER, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California JEREMY BLOXHAM, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts DAVID S. GOLDBERG, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, New York RAYMOND A. GREENWALD, Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, Maryland PATRICK E. MANTEY, University of California, Santa Cruz CHRISTOPHER T. RUSSELL, University of California, Los Angeles DEBORAH K. SMITH, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts National Research Council Staff ANNE M. LINN, Study Director JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Administrative Associate MONICA R. LIPSCOMB, Research Assistant SHANNON L. RUDDY, Senior Project Assistant

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COMMITTEE ON GEOPHYSICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL DATA J.-BERNARD MINSTER, Chair, University of California, San Diego ROGER C. BALES, University of Arizona, Tucson MARY ANNE CARROLL, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor JEFF DOZIER, University of California, Santa Barbara DAVID GLOVER, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts MARK J. MCCABE, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta JOHN M. MELACK, University of California, Santa Barbara ROY RADNER, New York University, New York National Research Council Staff ANNE M. LINN, Senior Program Officer SHANNON L. RUDDY, Senior Project Assistant

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BOARD ON EARTH SCIENCES AND RESOURCES GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Chair, University of Virginia, Charlottesville JILL F. BANFIELD, University of California, Berkeley STEVEN R. BOHLEN, Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Washington, D.C. VICKI J. COWART, Colorado Geological Survey, Denver DAVID L. DILCHER, University of Florida, Gainesville ADAM M. DZIEWONSKI, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts WILLIAM L. GRAF, University of South Carolina, Columbia RHEA GRAHAM, New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, Albuquerque V. RAMA MURTHY, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis DIANNE R. NIELSON, Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Salt Lake City RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada MARK SCHAEFER, NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia BILLIE L. TURNER II, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts THOMAS J. WILBANKS, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee National Research Council Staff ANTHONY R. DE SOUZA, Director PAUL M. CUTLER, Senior Program Officer TAMARA L. DICKINSON, Senior Program Officer DAVID A. FEARY, Senior Program Officer ANNE M. LINN, Senior Program Officer RONALD F. ABLER, Senior Scholar KRISTEN L. KRAPF, Program Officer LISA M. VANDEMARK, Program Officer YVONNE P. FORSBERGH, Research Assistant MONICA R. LIPSCOMB, Research Assistant JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Administrative Associate VERNA J. BOWEN, Administrative Associate RADHIKA CHARI, Senior Project Assistant KAREN L. IMHOF, Senior Project Assistant SHANNON L. RUDDY, Senior Project Assistant TERESIA K. WILMORE, Project Assistant WINFIELD SWANSON, Technical Editor

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Acknowledgments This report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Dwain Butler, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi John Foster, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston Robert Grossman, University of Illinois, Chicago Larry Mayer, University of New Hampshire, Durham Richard Sailor, Northrop Gruman, Boston, Massachusetts Barbara Tewksbury, Hamilton College, Clinton, New York J. Ronald Wilson, Marine Environmental Data Service (retired), Ontario, Canada Although the individuals listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions and recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its

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release. The review of this report was overseen by Fred N. Spiess, emeritus, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

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Preface The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) collects, disseminates, and archives marine, solar-terrestrial, and solid earth data on behalf of NOAA and the environmental science community. This report focuses on how well the center is performing these functions, serving its user communities, and supporting NOAA’s mission. In particular, the report addresses the questions posed by Gregory Withee, assistant administrator for satellite and information services, responsible for the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) (see Appendix B). At Dr. Withee’s request the committee did not review the National Snow and Ice Data Center, which receives funding through NGDC but is not part of the center. To prepare for the review the committee modified criteria that had been developed by its parent Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data, which has been reviewing data centers since 1967. The review committee added criteria to address issues of leadership, vision, and mission, which are more prominent in this review compared with previous data center reviews. Ten-year trends were emphasized because NGDC has not been assessed by the external user community since 1993. The criteria for review were used to evaluate NGDC at a November 13-15, 2002, site visit in Boulder, Colorado. The committee also gathered information at an August 13-14, 2002, meeting with NESDIS managers and in teleconferences, e-mail questionnaires, and meetings with managers from other parts of NOAA. These include the Forecast System Laboratory, National Climatic Data Center, National Geodetic Survey, National Oceanographic Data

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Center, Office of Coast Survey, and the Space Environment Center. The committee met on February 6-7, 2003, to prepare its report. The review took place at a time of transition at NGDC. The director, Michael Loughridge, retired in December 2002, and Christopher Fox from NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory was named interim director. As a result the review presents a snapshot of NGDC as it existed in 2002. The committee hopes that its findings will help the new director guide the center in the future. The committee would like to acknowledge the individuals who briefed the committee or provided input to the study, including Charles Challstrom, David Clark, Mai Edwards, David Epp, Christopher Fox, Mary Glackin, Ernest Hildner, Allen Hittelman, Tom Karl, Maureen Kinney, John Kinsfather, Herbert Kroehl, Michael Loughridge, Alexander MacDonald, Kurt Schnebele, George Sharman, Gregory Withee, and Charles Wooldridge. Thanks also go to the NGDC staff, who prepared the background material and figures requested by the committee, spoke openly with the committee during the site visit, and answered numerous questions during the committee’s writing phase. Their hard work and cooperation greatly facilitated this review. Finally, the committee thanks the study director, Anne Linn, for her efficient organization of the study process and her outstanding performance in producing this report. Ferris Webster, Chair Bernard Minster, Vice-chair

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Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1 1   INTRODUCTION   7     History of NGDC,   10     Organization of the Report,   11 2   OVERVIEW OF NGDC   13     Holdings,   14     Data Users,   17     Data Access,   19     Services,   21     Archive and Stewardship,   22     Management,   23 3   IMPROVING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF NGDC   29     Data and Information Collection,   29     Customer Satisfaction,   33     Organization and Resources,   38     Data Management,   44     Performance Measures,   48     Summary,   50

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4   NGDC MISSION AND VISION   53     NOAA and NESDIS Missions,   53     NGDC Mission,   55     Vision for NGDC,   56     Summary,   57 5   CONCLUSIONS   59     APPENDIXES         A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members   65     B Criteria for Review   69     C NGDC Holdings   71     D NOAA, NESDIS, and NGDC Missions, Visions, and Strategic Objectives   93     E NGDC Performance Measures and Milestones   99     F Acronyms   105