Ocean – Data Quality and Documentation

This section contains information highlighting Ocean.data.gov metadata standards and requirements as well as links to existing Agency data quality information.

Metadata Standards – Recommended

Metadata, data which describes an information resource, is critical for the use and discovery of the datasets which are retrievable by Ocean.data.gov.  Within information management communities, a distinction is often made between place-based geospatial data and non-geospatial data.  Likewise, a similar distinction holds for “structured” versus “unstructured” data in the information world, a distinction that often falls along the geo / non-geo data arenas with geospatial data typically being highly structured for information interchange.

ISO19115 establishes the international standard for geospatial metadata.  Within the United States, the Federal Geospatial Data Committee (FGDC) references the North American Profile, ANSI 453, which is a profile of ISO19115 for use in Mexico, the US and Canada by the geospatial community.  Please reference the appendices for a listing of applicable metadata standards for reference and/or adoption by CMSP.

For non-geospatial information resources, the Dublin Core metadata element set is typically referenced.  The Dublin Core Metadata Element Set is a vocabulary of fifteen properties for use in describing a wide range of resources. The name “Dublin” is due to its origin at a 1995 invitational workshop in Dublin, Ohio; and the “core” descriptor indicates its elements are broad and generic.

Quick References:

  1. Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) – Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM)
  2. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 453 – North American Profile
  3. North American Profile (NAP) of the ISO 19115
  4. Dublin Core Metadata Element Set
  5. Darwin Core Metadata Standard

For additional information on metadata requirements and standards, click on the following:

Metadata Requirements

Geospatial Data Resources

Metadata records shall comply with the current Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM)

–  Resource: The Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM), Vers. 2 (FGDC-STD-001-1998) is the current US Federal Metadata standard. The FGDC originally adopted the CSDGM in 1994 and revised it in 1998. According to Executive Order 12096, all Federal agencies are ordered to use this standard to document geospatial data created as of January 1995. The standard is often referred to as the ‘FGDC Metadata Standard’ and has been implemented beyond the federal level with State and local governments adopting the metadata standard as well.

Metadata elements must be completed in compliance with the CSDGM (Mandatory, Mandatory If Applicable, and Optional) for inclusion in the CMSP NIMS Portal Community.  If an element in the CSDGM is not labeled “Mandatory,” yet it applies to the dataset, the element shall be included to ensure creation of robust, meaningful, and clear metadata records. An active link to the data shall be included in the metadata unless restricted access is required.

To ensure high-quality metadata record creation, utilize appropriate and approved extensions or profiles to the CSDGM (i.e.  Remote Sensing Extension, Biological Data Profile, Shoreline Data Profile) that apply to the project or dataset.

– Resource: FGDC Endorsed Extensions to the CSDGM Version 2 (FGDC-STD-001-1998):

Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata: Extensions for Remote Sensing Metadata – Extended elements to support the documentation of geospatial data directly obtained from remote sensing. This extension includes elements that describe the remote sensing platform and sensors. This extension is intended for the documentation of data collected directly from the sensor. It is not intended for the documentation of data derived from remotely sensed data such as classified imagery. The core CSDGM standard should be used to document derived data.

– FGDC Endorsed Profiles of the CSDGM Version 2 (FGDC-STD-001-1998):

Biological Data Profile of the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata – The profile broadens the application of the CSDGM so that it is more easily applied to data that are not explicitly geographic (laboratory results, field notes, specimen collections, research reports) but can be associated with a geographic location. The profile changes the conditionality and domains of CSDGM elements, requires the use of a specified taxonomical vocabulary, and adds elements.

Metadata Profile for Shoreline Data – The profile addresses variability in the definition and mapping of shorelines by providing a standardized set of terms and data elements required to support metadata for shoreline and coastal data sets. The profile also includes a glossary and bibliography.

Non-Geospatial Information Products

Metadata fields must be completed in compliance with the elements required for citation for inclusion in the CMSP NIMS Portal Community.  If a metadata field is not mandatory, yet it applies to the information product, the element shall be included to ensure the creation of robust, meaningful, and clear metadata records.  Links to referenced and supporting information shall be included in the metadata unless restricted access is required.

Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, Version 1.1

The Dublin Core Metadata Element Set is a vocabulary of fifteen properties used to describe a wide variety of physical and digital objects within any discipline of knowledge.  Dublin Core consists of a comparatively simple schema that is easily extensible for the specific metadata needs of a given discipline.

Identifier: http://dublincore.org/documents/2010/10/11/dces/
Replaces: http://dublincore.org/documents/2008/01/14/dces/
Latest Version: http://dublincore.org/documents/dces/
Data Issued: 2010-10-11 Status of Document: This is a DCMI Recommendation

Description of Document: This document provides ready reference for the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, Version 1.1. For more detailed documentation and links to historical versioning information, see the document “DCMI Metadata Terms”.

Darwin Core Metadata Standard

The Darwin Core is a metadata standard for describing biological specimens in museum collections; it is also used for observational data (where an organism is observed and the observation recorded, but a specimen is not collected).  A specimen metadata record includes taxonomic information to identify the species and the individual specimen; geographic and geospatial data about the location at which the specimen was collected; information regarding the methods used to preserve the specimen; and other elements.

The Darwin Core is based on the standards developed by the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative [DCMI] and should be viewed as an extension of the Dublin Core for biodiversity information. The purpose of these terms is to facilitate data sharing by providing a well-defined standard core vocabulary in a flexible framework to minimize the barriers to adoption and to maximize reusability. The terms described in this standard are a part of a larger set of vocabularies and technical specifications under development [TDWG-DEV] and maintained by Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) [TDWG-STANDARDS].

Data Quality Standards


Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies

Congress directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue government-wide guidelines that “provide policy and procedural guidance to Federal agencies for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by Federal agencies….” In addition, each Federal agency is required to issue guidelines ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by the agency and establish administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency that does not comply with the guidelines issued under subsection.

The following links provide quick access to existing data quality standards and guidelines for those Federal agencies contributing data to Ocean.Data.gov:


Spatial Data Standards

In order to fully utilize the capabilities of geographic information and modern GIS technology, spatial data needs to be shared and systems need to be interoperable. Data standards play a crucial role in the seamless exchange of data. Agencies and organizations benefit from the use of standards by reducing data redundancy, increasing data compatibility, and improving the consistency and efficiency of data collection.

This section includes links and information highlighting community-supported data models and relevant content standards.

Data Models

ESRI Marine Data Model
The Marine Data Model, also known as “Arc Marine,” is the result of a collaboration involving researchers from Oregon State University, Duke, NOAA, The Danish Hydraulic Institute (DHI) and an extended review team. The result is the development of an ESRI data model created to support the needs of the Marine GIS community.

Data Content Standards

American National Standard Institute (ANSI) Geographic Information Framework Data Content Standard

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Geographic Information Framework Data Content Standard (FDCS) was developed by thematic experts and is based on conceptual models specified in international standards. It was developed with conceptual data modeling principles to ensure that the data content is comprehensive enough to satisfy a wide range of applications and flexible enough to handle future developments. The FDCS is designed to accommodate the development of interoperable applications that make data more accessible to users and easier to integrate with other sources.

The Framework component of the U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure refers specifically to those geospatial data themes identified as the foundation upon which all other data layers are structured and integrated for analysis and application. These seven themes of data are cadastral, digital orthoimagery, elevation, geodetic control, governmental units, hydrography and transportation

For more information on how the ANSI Framework and accompanying content standards can be implemented, click on the reference(s) below:

Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS)

Coastal planners and resource managers working in the marine environment routinely face challenges related to data availability and consistency. Often, different types of data from multiple sources must be integrated to fully characterize an area. The lack of a framework in which to accomplish this integration has prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal Services Center, in partnership with NatureServe and others to develop the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard Version 3.1 (CMECS). CMECS is an ecological classification system that is universally applicable for coastal and marine systems and complementary to existing wetland and upland systems.


The CMECS framework accommodates all the physical, biological, and chemical information that collectively determine a marine habitat type. This helps managers better understand the processes impacting these habitats. Unlike many classification systems CMECS is compatible with all observational technologies, which facilitates the integration (cross-walking) of existing data into a single framework.

Additional Information:

For more information, visit – http://www.csc.noaa.gov/benthic/cmecs/