Imaging Spectroradiometer) data from the EOS (Earth Observing System) satellites operated by NASA. This large and exponentially growing data volume indicates an urgent need for NOAA to address its ability to handle the current and future needs of NOAA archive users, and in fact it has already begun to do so, but significant work remains.

In addition to data volume, data diversity is another challenge; NOAA’s consolidated observation requirements include over 2000 diverse variables ranging from hyperspectral satellite imagery to the stomach contents of fish (McLean S., 2006). These data come from a broad range of platforms including (but not limited to) satellites, fixed and mobile radars, research aircraft, buoys, and ships of opportunity, and may be derived from such diverse sources as embedded sensors, models, physical samples, and self-organizing networks, each of which are associated with unique challenges in organizing, cataloguing, archiving, and providing access to the data they collect or generate.

Figure 1: Quarterly data downloads from NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), in gigabytes (line plot and left axis), and number of distinct hosts served (bars and right axis) for fiscal years 1993-2006 (Source: Fox C., 2006)

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