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Report of Meeting of GCOOS-RA Committees on Products and Services, DMAC, and Observing System

27-29 November 2007
New Orleans, LA

The second meeting of the three technical GCOOS Committees was held in New Orleans, LA, on 27-29 November 2007. These are the Observing System Committee (OSC), Products and Services Committee (PSC), and Data Management and Communications Committee (DMAC).
Opening the Meeting (Plenary Session)
The meeting was called to order at 0800 am on 27 November by Worth Nowlin, Chair of the GCOOS-RA Board of Directors. Ann Jochens, GCOOS Regional Coordinator, reviewed necessary logistic information. Then participants were invited to introduce themselves. A list of participants with affiliations is given as Appendix A. Nowlin reviewed the meeting objectives and the agenda for the first morning's plenary session combining members of all three committees. Appendix B gives the objectives, agenda, and preparatory materials for the meeting. Comments to the agenda were solicited; none were offered and the meeting proceeded.
Status and Background Reports (Plenary Session)
The Status of U.S. IOOS, GCOOS, and its RA
Nowlin gave an overview of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), the Ocean.US Office, planning for the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), and the NOOA IOOS Program Office. His talk also included a status report on GCOOS and its governing Regional Association.
National Federation of Regional Associations and Legislation
Jochens presented a brief, largely prepared by Josie Quintrell, Executive Director of the National Federation of Regional Associations (NFRA), explaining the NFRA and summarizing the content of pending federal legislation to authorize a U.S. IOOS. NFRA has prepared an RCOOS Conceptual Design Template (Appendix C) which is to be completed by each RA by December 19, 2007. Participants were requested to forward to Jochens comments and suggestions by December 10. Legislation containing provisions for RAs has passed in the House and has been reported out of committee in the Senate. We are hopeful of passage during this session as an important step toward IOOS development.
Geospatial Assessment of Marine Ecosystems—GAME Project
Dave Reed (GAME GIS Data Coordinator, Florida Institute of Oceanography, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute) gave an invited presentation on the Geospatial Assessment of Marine Ecosystems (GAME) project. GAME aims to develop an inventory of habitat-related data within the Gulf of Mexico that will serve as a foundation to develop a spatial framework for ecosystem-based management associated with regulatory and planning programs and areas of government coordination. There are two categories of the project: the Florida GAME, which is well underway, and the Gulf of Mexico GAME, which has just been established. The project focuses on assembling data with appropriate metadata related to habitats in the Gulf ranging from estuaries to the shelf edge. This entails a voluntary effort on the part of data providers to enter data and metadata. Data contributions are welcome, but note that the data assembled do not necessarily find their way to a permanent archive. Metadata entry in standard formats can be made through the GAME database or the NCDDC metadata tool, MERMAid (Metadata Enterprise Resource Management Aid). Additional information is available at
NOAA Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Project
Joe Stinus, NCDDC, gave a presentation, prepared by Steve Murawski, NOAA's Ecosystem Goal Team Lead, on the NOAA Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA). An IEA is "a synthesis and quantitative analysis of information on relevant physical, chemical, ecological, and human processes in relation to specified ecosystem management objectives." IEAs, which are a critical element of an Ecosystem Approach to Management Strategy, are underway in the Alaska Ecosystem Complex, the California Current Ecosystem, and the Northeast U.S. Shelf Ecosystem. The Gulf of Mexico is one region among five that might next be selected for IEA funding. Stinus provided a white paper on IEAs and a report on the FY2010-2014 Strategic Investment Question for Integrated Ecosystem Assessments.
New Funded Projects and Pending Proposals; Brief Overview of Education and Outreach Council Activities
Jochens reviewed funded and pending projects and proposals to support the GCOOS-RA and for integration and development of GCOOS. Three awards provided funding for year 3 under the GCOOS-RA support grant, initiation of a GCOOS Data Portal, and integration of GCOOS data nodes (providers). Funds for support of the Education and Outreach Coordinator were included to support the activities of the GCOOS Education and Outreach Council. A proposal was submitted to NOAA CSC for an additional three years support for the GCOOS-RA. The four proposals submitted in response to the NOAA CSC call for FY08 RCOOS proposals were: a 3-D circulation modeling activity, meteorological instrumentation of platforms, HF Radar Network development, and continuation of the Data Portal building to a Regional Operations Center. Each proposal included an E/O project.
Overview of Activities of the Committees
Chairs of the committees presented brief overviews of activities of their respective committees during the past year. Stephan Howden, Chair for the Observing System Committee, reviewed progress made on the OSC Action Plan from 2006-2007, with the major accomplishment being the completion of a first draft of the GCOOS Observing System Plan. This draft is under review by the committee; after revisions Howden will provide the Plan to the Board for review.

Ed Kearns, Chair for the Data Management and Communications Committee, reported that, although the committee had been somewhat inactive over the year, a number of the activities in the DMAC Action Plan did get accomplished through efforts of individual members. These included development of a template for Regional Association DMAC Plans by NFRA for use in the DMAC parts of the RA Business Plans; funding of a project to standardize local data nodes; progress toward building a GCOOS data portal by securing a year of funding for the effort; and demonstration of interoperability by providing TABS, COMPS, and TCOON data and ROMS output to the site using Web Services; review of the regional operations center concept; and several changes in membership.

Russ Beard, Chair for the Products and Services Committee, reported that both the Chair and Vice Chair of the committee were stepping down; an election for the new Chair would be held at the separate PSC meeting. He urged that the three committees should become more involved with each other to improve the activities and synergies of the groups. He then reported on a number of ongoing ecosystem and IOOS related observational efforts that will require improved data integration for development of new and improved products and services. He presented five recommendations for consideration.
Improving Interactions Among Committees and with Councils
Prior to breaking into separate sessions for each committee, Nowlin delivered some thoughts on improving communications among and effectiveness of the GCOOS organization. He offered several points as background. At its September 2007 meeting the Board of Directors reviewed activities of its Councils and Committees and discussed ways of improving communications and enhancing their effectiveness. Although the GCOOS-RA structure was in place by April 2006, not all groups had clear directions, plans, or resources. Nowlin reviewed the situation for three of the GCOOS groups.
  1. The Membership Committee has a clear and limited charge. It is to arrange for nominations and elections of the Board of Directors and of the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Stakeholder Council, and it is to seek new parties to the MoA governing this RA. It consists of three individuals whose worksites are co-located at Stennis. It requires only resources for travel and logistic assistance with elections. Thus, it has been rather successful.
  2. The Board of Directors has clearly mandated responsibilities through the MoA. It meets semi-annually in person and bi-monthly by teleconference—weekly during some periods. Board members have spent considerable time with one another representing GCOOS in venues throughout the region, the nation, and in Mexico. It is a relatively well functioning organization.
  3. The Education and Outreach community had its first (formation) meeting in November 2004. At that meeting suggested Terms of Reference and an action plan were formulated. Thus when the Education and Outreach Council had its initial meeting in April 2006, they were well poised to make progress. They communicate regularly among themselves (by email), send representatives to other meetings, and have the support of an E/O Coordinator. Moreover, the RA has pledged 10% of its income stream to E/O activities. In summary, the EOC has good communication, a prioritized plan, and limited support. Nowlin hopes to see the other Council and Committees in similar circumstances.

Nowlin then offered two suggestions for consideration by committee members. First, each Committee and Council should establish an Action Plan. Actions should be prioritized with time lines for initiation and completion. If support or resources are needed, details should be included. Any action without a designated performer is unlikely to be carried out. Second, the internal communications should be improved. Newsletter reports seem ineffective. Some actions that might improve communication are: committee chairs be invited to Board and Council meetings; representatives be invited to stakeholder workshops; quarterly meetings be instituted between the three committee chairs; representatives of PSC and DMAC should participate in telecons of OSC; and chairs should actively provide information regarding IOOS and GCOOS to committee members. Each committee has assigned to it Board members who are the designated liaisons. Presently these are Luther and Martin for DMAC; Rabalais and Toll for PSC; and van Smirren for OSC.

Separate Committee Meetings
During the afternoon of November 27 and the morning of November 28, the three committees met separately with the following charge:
  • Committees will discuss and ratify Action Plans.
  • Committees will agree on a prioritized set of actions to be carried out during the next year—individual assignments and due dates must be made and agreed upon.
  • Committees will identify stakeholder groups, if any, from which they would like to have information on priorities.
  • Committees will discuss and prepare suggestions for high priority projects to be proposed in response to future NOAA call for proposals.

A major focus of the Products and Services Committee should be to suggest actions to be taken in phases 1 and 2 of the funded Data Portal development project.
A major focus of the DMAC Committee should be to agree on DMAC standards and protocols to be set in place by the funded Data Nodes project.

Results of Separate Committee Sessions (Plenary Session)
The afternoon of November 28, the committees met in plenary session to review the results of their separate deliberations.
Products and Services Committee
Russ Beard stepped down as Chair of the Products and Services Committee. The PSC elected Rost Parsons as an Interim Chair and decided that no Vice Chair was needed at this time. Parsons will continue as Interim Chair until the PSC membership is reconstituted, at which time the PSC may elect a new Chair.

Rost Parsons presented the results of the deliberations of the PSC. The new Action Plan consists of four major activities (Appendix D): reconstitute the membership; catalog currently available products and services; review and distill relevant existing gap analyses and needs assessments; provide list of potential integrated product categories for possible high priority projects. Most tasks are targeted for completion by May 2008, with additional actions to be determined after the committee is reconstituted. The PSC recommended that the one year Data Portal project use (1) processes developed by NOAA services (e.g., NESDIS, NCDDC, West Coast project), (2) lessons learned from the SEACOOS project, and (3) combination (mash-up) and modular approaches to delivery of data, products, and services. They also recommended that there be a plan developed for operation and maintenance if there is no second year of funding and that specific data streams should be selected for focus in year one.

Russ Beard gave a brief on the West Coast Observing System Project. The goal of this project is to make the monitoring data of the west coast National Marine Sanctuary Program accessible through the internet in IOOS-compatible format; it is to support discovery, transport, access, archival, and outreach, as well as science-based management. He suggested aspects of this project might be useful as a model for the development of the GCOOS Data Portal.
Observing System Committee
Stephen Howden presented the results of the OSC meeting. The Action Plan covers the period December 2007 through June 2008 (Appendix E). It consists of nine activities. These include determining improved ways for the committees and other GCOOS bodies to interact, recommending actions on historical data sets, develop an emergency response plan, ensuring all Gulf observing systems participate in the NOAA CSC IOOS Data Registry, and developing a prioritized list of projects to propose. An important need is for the federal assets (National Backbone) to also be included in an IOOS Data Registry so that users will be able to find all data from all sources for specified regions. The OSC also is considering additions to its membership.

During the discussion, it became apparent that one priority was to sustain the existing observing assets, several of which were in jeopardy of losing funding. Discussion also resulted in a suggestion that the Board should send a letter to MMS in support of the continuation of the ADCP data transmittals by the industry. It was pointed out that the insurance/reinsurance industry might use these data as they are interested in atmospheric and oceanic measurements. Discussion also resulted in the recommendation that federal agencies be encouraged to work to make their data interoperable—many agencies now produce data that are not interoperable.

Data Management and Communications Committee
Ed Kearns presented the results of the DMAC deliberations. The Action Plan (Appendix F) has eight tasks, most with assignments and target dates for completion. Among the tasks, the committee plans to make progress in the adoption of data dictionaries, data transport methods, metadata protocols, and data QA/QC and data handling standards. It also plans to entrain additional data sources into the GCOOS. The DMAC Committee would like to improve interactions with the PSC and OSC so the DMAC efforts can be targeted appropriately and is interested in engaging in the Data Portal scoping work and the data nodes project. The committee recommends that GCOOS needs two full time employees to support all the GCOOS data providers.
Other Business
Howden stated that the GCOOS web site was excellent for internal use, but needed enhancements (such as graphics or pictures) to improve external use. Parsons volunteered to have one of his people critique the web site. Jochens asked for suggestions of material to add.

The Integrated Ecosystem Assessments are part of the Ecosystem Observing Program. There is an Ecosystems Goal Team in NOAA Fisheries that is interested in supporting observations. It was suggested that a GCOOS presentation be structured for this Team and then to request Team endorsement of GCOOS.

The plenary session was adjourned at 1630, but a small working group remained to synthesize results.
Results of Synthesis Activities
In late afternoon on 28 November, a small working group began a synthesis of the results of the committee meetings. This working group consisted of the committee chairs, board members present, regional coordinator, DMAC coordinator, and several additional committee members. A Synthesis of Priority Goals and Objectives was prepared. This document was reviewed and revised in plenary session on the morning of 29 November. It consists of a list of high priority GCOOS goals and objectives and is given in Appendix G.
Close of Meeting
After the morning plenary session, each committee met separately for additional discussions. The chairs independently adjourned their respective committee meetings, and all were adjourned by noon.


Appendix A: Attendees at the November 2007 Meetings of the GCOOS Committees


Name Affiliation 27 28 29
Data Management and Communications Committee Members
Brenda Babin Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium
Julie Bosch National Coastal Data Development Center
Bill Burnett National Data Buoy Center    
Jennifer Colee US Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District  
James Davis Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi
Matthew Howard Texas A&M University
Ed Kearns (Chair) South Florida Natural Resources Center
Jay Ratcliff US Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District    
Robert Raye Shell
Vembu Subramanian University of South Florida
Observing System Committee Members
Don Conlee NortekUSA  
Stephan Howden (Chair) University of Southern Mississippi
Gary Jeffress Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi
Dawn Lavoie US Geological Service    
Alan Lewitus NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research
Nick Shay University of Miami
Jan van Smirren Fugro GEOS  
Nan Walker Louisiana State University  
Products and Services Committee Members
Russ Beard National Coastal Data Development Center  
Richard Crout National Data Buoy Center  
Chuanmin Hu University of South Florida
Steve Morey Florida State University
Rost Parsons (Chair) National Coastal Data Development Center
Richard Wilkens Wilkens Weather  
Board of Director Members
Mark Luther University of South Florida
Worth Nowlin (Chair) Texas A&M University    
Nancy Rabalais Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium
Don Roman University of Southern Mississippi
Ray Toll Science Applications International Corporation
Other Attendees
Landry Bernard University of Southern Mississippi/NDBC    
Cristina Carollo Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Charleston Galvarino Consultant  
Ann Jochens GCOOS Office; Texas A&M University
Dave Reed Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission


Appendix B: Meetings of GCOOS-RA DMAC, Products and Services, and Observing System Committees

New Orleans, LA
27-29 November 2007
Tentative Objectives, Agenda, and Preparations


Objective 1. To revise the Action Plans for each of the Committees.
Objective 2. To agree on a prioritized set of actions to be carried out during the following year.
Objective 3. To agree on high priority projects to be proposed in response to the next NOAA call for competitive proposals for IOOS activities.
Objective 4. To provide guidance on carrying out funded projects.


Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Morning – Plenary Session
0800 Opening of Meetings (Worth Nowlin)
0830 The Status of U.S. IOOS, GCOOS, and its RA (Worth Nowlin)
0915 Brief on the National Federation of Regional Associations and Legislation (Ann Jochens)
0930 Brief on "Geospatial Assessment of Marine Ecosystems–GAME" project (Dave Reed)
1015 Brief on the NOAA Integrated Ecosystems Assessment (IEA) project (Joe Stinus)
1035 New funded projects and pending proposals (Ann Jochens)
1055 Brief overview of EOC activities (Ann Jochens)
1105 Brief overview of activities of commitees by chairs
1205 Improving interactions among Committees and with Councils (Worth Nowlin)
1220 LUNCH - catered
Afternoon – Separate Commitee Sessions
  • Committees will discuss and ratify Action Plans.
  • Committees will agree on a prioritized set of actions to be carried out during the next year–individual assignments and due dates must be made and agreed upon.
  • Committees will identify stakeholder groups, if any, from which they would like to have information on priorities.
  • Committees will discuss and prepare suggestions for high priority projects to be proposed in response to future NOAA call for proposals.

  • A major focus of the Products and Services Committee should be to suggest actions to be taken in phases 1 and 2 of the funded Data Portal development project.
  • A major focus of the DMAC Committee should be to agree on DMAC standards and protocols to be set in place by our funded Data Nodes project.
1500 15-minute break

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Morning – Separate Committee Sessions
0800 Committees will continue work begun on the previous afternoon.
1015 Resume committee work
1155 Committee Chairs to provide meeting facilitator with their action plans and lists of priority projects.
1200 LUNCH - catered
Afternoon – Plenary Session
1330 Committe Chairs will present results of their deliberations.
1430 A facilitator will work to resolve any conflicts or overlapping activities among the committee Action Plans and actions for the coming year.
A facilitator will work to obtain agreement on the list of high priority projects to propose.
1515 Resume resolving conflicts and obtaining agreement

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Morning – Separate Committee Sessions
  • Committees will meet to finalize Action Plans and coming year activities, taking into account inputs from the previous day's plenary session.
  • Committees will identify resources needed to carry out next year's actions.
  • Final thoughts regarding future projects might be considered at this time as well.

Meeting Preparations

  1. Prior to the meetings each Committee Chair is responsible for preparing an updated version of the Committee Action Plan and for vetting this with the committee membership via email.
  2. Prior to the meetings the Chair of the Observing Systems Committee is responsible for completing a draft of the Operating Systems Plan. The GCOOS Office will assist as needed and will distribute to all committee members prior to the meetings.
  3. Prior to the meetings the GCOOS Office will distribute to Committee members copies of the work statements from the Data Nodes Project and the Data Portal Development Project.


Appendix C: RCOOS Conceptual Design Template

November 8, 2007
NFRA Document

RCOOS Conceptual Design Template
A map of the where, what and why for an ideal system

One of the outcomes of the 2nd IOOS Regional Coordination Workshop held in St. Petersburg, FL on October 23-25, 2007 was the decision to develop a template for RCOOS conceptual designs. The purpose of the template is to provide a view of the eleven RCOOSs in a common format so that regional designs can be compared and that the whole of a national system can be understood. NOAA has asked for RCOOS Conceptual Designs, Version 1.0, by December 20 to assist with planning and the IOOS report to Congress due in April. The following outlines an approach and a format for developing high level (v 1.0) conceptual designs for each region that can be synthesized at the national level to provide crucial information to federal agencies, OMB and Congress.

Conceptual designs are part of the RAs overall plan for providing coastal ocean information to users. They will be stand alone documents but are part of the RAs overall plan for how IOOS will be successful in their regions. It is based on the needs of users and provides an outline of the technical and scientific systems needed to full those needs.

There will be a clear need to develop an iterative process of implementation once funding is secured to transition the RCOOS to operate in a mode of long-term operations. The intent of this document, however, is to establish a high-level concept of what the RCOOSs will be, and will be used for planning purposes. It is critical to capture a systems-level view of the RCOOS in these design documents, rather than enumerating the details of each component.

Suggested Process to Develop a User-driven Conceptual Design

  • Develop regional agreement on priority user needs
  • Articulate statement of problem(s) (organize around themes, not system elements) and link problem(s) to users
  • Determine prototype products requirements and identify technical approach, including R&D needs for products. (Prototype products provide a starting place for the technology and for early engagement of the users in proto-product evaluation)
  • Identify the technical activities (subsystems) required for products or classes of products. e.g.,
    • Observations
    • Data management
    • Modeling/analysis/product development
    • R&D
  • Develop and implement a customer development plan for users and a public awareness effort for the regional observing system
  • Develop performance metrics (model skill development), work with end-users to determine "service level" (or 'what is good enough').
  • Refine observing system and products where needed to meet requirements.

RCOOS Conceptual Design Template for Version 1.0
(due to NOAA December 20; due to Josie by December 19 for synthesis and packaging)

  1. Priorities
    1. List priorities and explain how priorities were determined
    2. Identify products that will serve these priorities. Articulate the beneficial uses of these products.
    3. Table of required activities to meet identified product areas, including outreach.
  2. RCOOS Conceptual Design. Should include brief descriptions, rationale, and the interdependencies of the subsystems.
    • Observing system,
    • Data management, and
    • Modeling/analysis/product development.
  3. Rough estimate of costs (order $x million)

The timeframe for the Conceptual Design is 5-10 years (5 years is more realistic but 10 years implies the sustainable goal of IOOS).

Relationship of Conceptual Design to other documents

The RCOOS Conceptual Design is one part of the RA's strategic plan. The strategic plan is the overall plan that outlines how the RAs plans to achieve its goals of meeting user needs, in including how it will be organized and governed to fulfill regional needs, its plan for its fiscal needs, technical and science needs and building public awareness.

Strategic Plan

  • RA governance, management, and structure
  • Conceptual Design—outline of technical and scientific plan
  • Concept of operations (who will do what)
  • Customer development and user engagement strategy
  • Public and user awareness strategy
  • Educational and outreach strategy
  • Fiscal plan for RA/RCOOS operations including time-line estimate of developing non-federal support (e.g.—customer support).


Appendix D: Action Plan and Recommendations 2007-2008

GCOOS Products and Services Committee
28 November 2007


  1. Reconstitute membership (send names, contact information, and brief biography of nominees to Ann Jochens; target February 15)
    1. GCOOS Board to solicit interest from stakeholders
    2. Russ Beard to contact (1) DMR for proxy for Joe Jewel, (2) Mobile Bay Chamber of Commerce, and (3) NGI representative
    3. Rost Parsons and Joe Stinus to contact Fisheries and Sea Grant (e.g., LaDon Swann, David Nieland)
    4. All members suggest: NGO, Port Authority, Offshore Terminals nominees
    5. GCOOS Office to ask missing PSC members about their continued interest

    10 to 12 members
    one from each state
    membership to emphasize stakeholders
    links with Stakeholder Council & Education/Outreach

  2. Catalog current products and services available through or affiliated with GCOOS (target March 31)
    1. Joe Stinus to draft solicitation email, including an example or two (December 15)
    2. GCOOS Office to send to GCOOS list serve and additional names provided to Ann Jochens
    3. Not a data inventory
    4. Inputs to Joe Stinus and Rost Parsons for compilation

    Continual collaboration with GOMA focus areas, e.g., habitat.

  3. Review and distill existing gap analyses relative to products and services (target April 15)
    1. Rost Parsons to provide documents listing by mid-February
      GCSC, GOMA, Hypoxia Task Force, GCOOS Stakeholder Conferences, etc.
      Include GCOOS internal requirements (e.g., socio-economic study) and Mississippi State University analysis of best data sets for socio-economic indicators for Gulf
    2. Ann Jochens to arrange posting of studies on GCOOS web site when received (target February).
    3. Rost Parsons to identify a volunteer or give assignment to review each study (from committee membership and GCOOS Board)
    4. Russ Beard will send socio-economic white papers (NRC benefits of observing systems) to committee
    5. Rost Parsons will collate
  4. PSC to provide list of potential integrated product categories
    1. Derived from portal data streams
    2. Based on stakeholder requirements and gaps; cost/benefit
    3. Examples
      Now Cast
      Data assimilation into models
      Tropical weather for 2008 season (weather committee members) (click CSIDE icon)


A. PSC Recommendations Regarding the GCOOS Data Portal

  1. Utilize NOAA Services (NESDIS)
    IT requirements (e.g., security)
    Interoperable with REDM (Regional Ecosystem Data Management) NOAA will ensure archival services at appropriate national data center
    Integrated West Coast processes into GCOOS data portal (automated, automated, automated)
  2. Plan for O&M (if no 2nd year); utilize NOAA Services
  3. Focus on select data streams for year 1
    Utilize ontologies (e.g., NOAA SMECS)
  4. Ergonomics – lessons learned from SEACOOS
  5. Mash-up approach – distributed data not necessarily stored at GCOOS
  6. Modular – different scales of delivery/products

B. PSC Recommendations Regarding High Priority GCOOS Projects

  1. Link projects to data portal effort where possible.
  2. Initially select projects with highest cost/benefit ratio
  3. PSC to provide list of potential integrated product categories (see Action Item 4 above)


Appendix E: Action Plan for December 2007 - June 2008

GCOOS Observing System Committee

  1. Improve communications among Councils and Committees; designees are
    1. Howden, OSC Chair, as the representative to Board meetings (bi-monthly teleconferences and 6-monthly face-to-face meetings)
    2. Jeffress as the OSC representative to DMAC
    3. Walker as the OSC representative to Products and Services Committee
    4. TBD as the OSC representative to the Stakeholders Council
    5. TBD as the OSC representative to the Education and Outreach Council
  2. Recommend to the Board of Directors actions relative to the identification of historical data sets and their digital accessibility and archival. Timeline: March 31, 2008.Team leader: Jeffress
  3. Develop Emergency Response Plan for GCOOS Regional Ocean Observing Subsystems (ROOSs):
    1. Template 1st draft. Timeline: April 1, 2008. Task Leader: Jeffress.
    2. Final template. Timeline: May 15, 2008. Task Leader: Jeffress.
    3. Identify ROOSs for participation
    4. Contact each ROOS and request that they submit draft plan to GCOOS Office. Timeline: May 15, 2008.
  4. Ensure that all ROOSs participate in the CSC IOOS Data Registry. Responsible parties are:
    1. U. South Alabama, FSU; March 15, 2008, Conlee
    2. Check with NCDDC about providing assistance; March 15, 2008, Howden
    3. MS-DMR/USGS; March 15, 2008, Howden
    4. La-DNR/USGS; March 15, 2008, Nan Walker
    5. Check off the Systems Inventory List; March 15, 2008, Howden
    6. Check on USGS/TX and USGC/FL; March 15, 2008, Lavoie
  5. Develop Directory of IOOS/GCOOS Technical Experts for
    1. HF Radar
    2. Remote Sensing
    3. AUVs
    4. Nutrient Sensors
    5. Sea level gages
    6. In-situ optical
    7. Oxygen
    8. Waves and currents
    9. Buoys
    10. Drifters
    Howden will send out email by mid-February with a request for responses by mid-March. Results will be collated into a directory by early April.
  6. Push for Data Registry of National Backbone in Gulf
    1. Ask GCOOS Board to request NFRA to ask for Federal registry of IOOS data. Timeline: January 2008. Responsible party: Nowlin
  7. Review OSC membership and chairmanship. Committee Chair will send recommendations to Board of Directors by April.
  8. Review OSC's prioritized lists of projects to be proposed by GCOOS and GOM National Backbone enhancements. Circulate to other committees and councils for comment before submitting recommendations to the Board. This activity has a high priority since GCOOS must be ready with a vetted plan as funding opportunities present themselves.
    1. Complete OSC review by mid-February
    2. Circulate to committees and councils and obtain comments by early March.
    3. Teleconference to finalize recommendations by end of March.
    4. Submit recommendations to the Board by end of March.
  9. Review and update the Action Plan twice per year. Timeline: June 2008 and November 2008. Task leader: Stephan Howden, OSC Chair.



Appendix F: Action Plan for December 2007 - June 2008

GCOOS Data Management and Communications Committee

The GCOOS DMAC action plan addresses three general areas:

  1. Protocol selections leading to interoperable data systems,
  2. Survey, assessment and entrainment of data providers, and
  3. Promoting communications and IT exchanges between data providers.

I. Protocol selections leading to interoperable data systems.

The core elements of the IOOS DMAC plan include: data discovery, catalog, online browse, data access & transport, metadata, and archive. GCOOS DMAC adds quality control and quality assurance (QA/QC) to this list. GCOOS DMAC will work on several elements of these core elements during the coming year. The tasks, responsible individuals, and completion dates are as follows.

1) Adopt Data Dictionaries. Dictionaries are collections of words, spellings, and definitions. In this context they are the names of measured oceanographic parameters, spellings, and definitions including units. Each data provider uses a set of words (salinity, temperature) to offer their data to the world and to store their data in their databases. In order for automated machine-to-machine exchanges (e.g. catalog searches) to be successful, both machines must know the other's dictionary. If the dictionaries are not identical then a mapping between terms must be made. Mapping between terms can be exact (salinity = salinity), equivalent (salinity = S), related (salinity // conductivity), etc. and can be quite complex. If all data providers use the same dictionary, the need to map between terms is eliminated. Our premise is that dictionaries used by the various GCOOS regional data providers for their near real-time data streams are probably quite similar. If so, each provider could adopt a common dictionary and would only need to make a few changes to their own local data systems. A candidate common dictionary is the SEACOOS CDL V3 currently used by SEACOOS and by USF's COMPS.

Task 1a. We will acquire the current dictionaries used by the non-federal GCOOSRA data providers and assess and document the changes required to adopt the SEACOOS CDL V3. (Subramanian – March 2008)

Task 1b. Acquisition of a suitable dictionary for ecological/biological terms will be pursued. Potential sources of information include but are not limited to BODC, Global Change Master Directory (GCMC) and OBIS. (Kearns – March 2008).

Task 1c. If all GCOOS-RA data providers cannot agree upon a single common dictionary then a cross-walk activity (mapping terms between dictionaries) must take place. The Marine Metadata Interoperability (MMI) program has conducted cross-walk training workshops in the past and is planning on offering another workshop in 2008. This workshop could be held/co-hosted in the GCOOS region. Howard is on the MMI project and will coordinate. (June 2008).

Task 1d. Agree on approach for data dictionaries in the GCOOS-RA. (Kearns April 2008).

2) Adopt Data Access and Transport Method(s). This core element of the IOOS DMAC plan deals with how data and metadata are selected and moved from source to destination. Most of us are familiar with ftp in which the entire file associated with a given name is selected and transported. However, there is no provision with ftp for bringing over part of the named file or for knowing what is in the file before retrieving it. The IOOS DMAC Best Practices guide recommends OPeNDAP as a candidate transport protocol. An initial OPeNDAP call can be made to retrieve information about a file's contents (spatio-temporal coverage, parameters, etc.) and a secondary call can retrieve a selected data subset, rather than the whole file. The data arrive in an organized ready-to-use way. Most GCOOS data provider are offering their data via OPeNDAP. GCOOSRA formally endorses its use. Similarly, the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) has worked on developing standard ways to move data with geospatial content across the network using Web Services (i.e., XML-based exchanges). This content can be images or numerical values with sufficient geospatial metadata to enable precise overlay with other geographic data using Geographic Information System (GIS) software–either proprietary (ESRI) or open source. IOOS DMAC has approved the Web Services approach but the details remain to be established. This is an evolving topic with work going on in the grass-roots community (OOSTethys and OGC Ocean Interoperability Experiment (OIE)) and at NOAA/CSC's Data Transport Lab (DTL). LUMCON and COMPS participated with the DTL in prototype delivery systems involving GML/Web Feature Services.

Task 2a. Babin and Subramanian will summarize the outcomes of their collaboration with the NOAA/DTL and convey their recommendations to GCOOS-RA DMAC. (March 2008).

3) Metadata Standards. Standards, in this context, has two parts. The first is content standards. Content is the auxiliary information recorded about data. This information is used for sorting and selecting records. A content standard is a community agreement on what information needs to be recorded. The second part is metadata format standards. Expressing metadata content records in standard ways make it easy to aggregate records from multiple sources into community catalogs. The Federal Geospatial Data Committee (FGDC) has established a format standard that is easily ingested by many catalogs including NASA's Global Change Master Directory (GCMD). Federal funding usually comes with requirements that FGDC-compliant records be created and filed in an appropriate catalog. The GCOOSRA Data Portal will want a machine-readable catalog for several reasons–automated data discovery is one. We will ask our regional data providers to provide continually updated metadata records expressed in a standard way, most likely in a FGDC-compliant formats. GCOOS guidance for selecting a metadata content standard comes from the IOOS DMAC Metadata Standards Expert Team and from the Quality Assurance of Real-Time Ocean Data (QARTOD) workshops. Both groups have been attempting to define a content standard for real-time IOOS data. The US (through FGDC) and Canada are working on a new standard called the North American Profile which is tied to evolving international metadata standards. This work will have an impact on the community standards and deserves our attention. Julie Bosch is a member of the IOOS DMAC Metadata Expert Team, and the GCOOS DMAC Committee and we will rely on her expertise in this area.

Task 3a. Bosch will recommend a prototype content standard for use by the GCOOSRA data portal (March 2008).

4) Adopt data QA/QC and data handling methods. Although not formally part of the IOOS DMAC Plan, the GCOOSRA DMAC committee feels that QA/QC is a required element of our overall data handling strategy. The Quality-Assurance of Real-Time Ocean Data (QARTOD) group has been gathering community input for the past several years on QA/QC approaches to commonly-collected oceanographic data. NDBC has been working on QA/QC algorithms for real-time data. Responsibility for applying QA/QC to the GCOOSRA data streams will be shared between the data providers and the data portal. We will extract the QARTOD recommendations and transmit these to the GCOOSRA data providers and encourage them to incorporate these recommendations into their standard QA/QC processing by September 2008. The Local Data Nodes project requires that the previous year's worth of data be available online by the third year. We take steps to assure these delayed mode data are subjected to additional delayed mode QA/QC as appropriate. Final (delayed-mode) data will be transmitted to the appropriate national archives. We believe WHOI is working on a Sensor ML/QARTOD synthesis and we will monitor this program's activity.

Task 4a. Obtain QARTOD recommendations (Burnett June 2008).
Task 4b. Work with local data nodes to apply standard QA/QC. (Howard Sept 2008).

5) Establish/promote data discovery. Data discovery will be supported though the use of catalogs. GCOOS-RA will interact with several types of catalogs. First is the NOAA/CSC IOOS Regional Observation Registry. This is a "live" catalog of the non-federal observing assets of the 11 Regional Associations. Individual data providers publish a list of their assets in a publicly-available computer directory. These lists are harvested automatically for selection and display. It is important for these lists to be accurate at all times. GCOOS-RA DMAC will encourage the local data nodes to automate the production of these lists to keep them accurate. The second type are the national clearinghouse catalogs such as NASA's Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) and GeoSpatial One-Stop. GCOOS-RA will submit the region's metadata in FGDC-compliant formats to these clearinghouses through the Local Data Nodes project's activities. NCDDC's Metadata Enterprise Resource Management Aid (MERMAid) tool for creating, validating, managing and publishing FGDC compliant metadata will be of use in this effort. The third type is a machine-accessible catalog to support the Data Portal work. One approach for this catalog might be to build upon the IOOS Regional Registry Project work. Another possibility is the standards-based approach under consideration and development by OGC called OpenGIS Catalogue Services–ebRIM profile of CSW which establishes a framework for implementing catalog services.

Task 5a. Acquire and practice with MERMAid. Seek support in the local data nodes for automated production of metadata for IOOS Regional Registry catalog use. Examine ebRIM for suitability for Data Portal use. (Howard, June 2008).

II. Survey, assessment and entrainment of data providers, and

6) Entrain potential sources of Gulf Coastal Data. The 10 principal GCOOS-RA non-federal data nodes will provide their physical oceanographic data to the Data Portal as specified in the Data Portal and Local Data Nodes Project proposals. GCOOS DMAC wishes to add biophysical data and federal data to this list. To start making progress in this area we need an inventory of these additional assets. The federal agencies and the person assigned to survey the assets of the listed federal group are listed below. We are particularly interested in easily-entrained and machine searchable data sets.

Task 6a. Survey Federal data providers for ingestible data streams. Potential sources and responsible individuals are listed below (September 2008).

  • NOAA/NDBC – Bill Burnett
  • NOAA/NOS – Charlton Galvarino
  • USACE – Jennifer Colee
  • USGS – Charlton Galvarino
  • NOAA/NMFS – Julie Bosch
  • NWS – Charlton Galvarino
  • NPS – Ed Kearns
  • CDMO/NERRS – Matt Howard
  • PODAAC – Brenda Babin
  • RV data – Brenda Babin
  • NGI OPeNDAP – Julie Bosch
  • Shell – Robert Raye

7) Self-assessment of 10 funded data node partners. Before the Data Portal can be implemented we need a complete self-assessment of the GCOOS-RA observing system data streams. For example, to establish the Data Portal database records we need to know the full-spectrum of what is being measured. We need to understand data delivery systems of each data provider to design and establish interfaces to them. Much of this information is also needed to write the GCOOS-RA Data Management Plan (RA-DMP). In addition, we need to inventory our human resources and their skills sets so we know who to call or who to bring to bear on particular IT issues. Some of the required information has already been collected. For example, the IOOS Regional Observation Registry is a list of near real-time data streams and all nodes are participating in this program. The Local Data Nodes Project involves the IT staff at each of the local data nodes so we have established the contact list. We need to complete the assessment of IT skills and the system architectures at each node.

Task 7a. Gather the information needed to complete the self-assessment. (Bosch, Howard, Kearns – begin in January 2008).

III. Promoting communications and IT exchanges between data providers.

8) Establish connections to all relevant data management IT activities. There are a number of external groups working on IT issues related to IOOS DMAC. These groups may have activities, development efforts or results that are of interest or use to GCOOS-RA DMAC efforts. We will keep apprised of these national and grass-root activities by attending, participating and reporting of these activities. We will work to transfer technology between local data provider nodes by sending experts on site visits. We are calling these IT transfers by experts "Geek Squad Visits". Provision has been made in the Local Data Nodes contracts for representatives from each of 10 nodes to attend two IT workshops or conferences per year to keep involved and abreast of activities related to interoperability. We expect these individuals will relay what they have learned to the others data nodes and to GCOOS-RA DMAC. Some national and grass root activities known to us at the present time are:

IOOS FY2007 Grantees workshop
NOAA/CSC Community information repository (CIR)
NOAA/CSC Data Transport Lab (DTL)
OGC Ocean Interoperability Experiment OIE
Marine Metadata Interoperability Program (MMI)
NOAA IOOS Data Integration Framework (DIF)

Task 8a. Report to GCOOS-RA and local data nodes of outcome of FY2007 Grantees workshop (Howard, February 2008).
Task 8b. Establish communications mechanism (forums, wiki, etc.) for GCOOS-RA (Howard February 2008).
Task 8c. Establish a DMAC Geek Squad (Kearns coordinator: start May/June 2008).

Other Priorities

  1. GCOOS DMAC will participate in the Data Portal scoping activities in early 2008
  2. GCOOS DMAC seeks closer connections with the Products and Services Committee to learn what products are needed so that required data connections can be made.
  3. GCOOS DMAC seeks closer communications with the Observations Committee to identify new observing systems, especially from the private sector.

Suggested Projects

  1. GCOOS IT "Geed Squad" (2 FTEs: 1 full-time regional tech support person, 1 full-time management but technical savvy person to serve all data provider partners.
  2. Seek NOAA/CSC assistance to install OOSTethys software
  3. Regional Ops Center: explore NDBC's role in QA/QC and 24/y operations.


Appendix G: Synthesis of Priority Goals and Objectives
Closing Plenary Session

GCOOS OSC, PSC, and DMAC Meeting
27-29 November 2007
New Orleans, LA

List of high priority GCOOS goals and objectives

  • Sustain existing GCOOS capabilities (people, infrastructure, observations and use as first level data portal requirements)
    • Many measurements do not have long term funding (e.g., WAVCIS, Hypoxia, or USM buoy)
    • Components’ integration: augment existing stations (see architecture)
    • Measurements facing possible FY08/09 shut down include
      • Hypoxia monitoring stations off LA
      • HR Radar operation & maintenance
    • Spreadsheet needed on assets, people, funding source, funding end date
    • Include deferred deployment of assets (have instruments but no funds to deploy or operate)
    • Need improved process for how GCOOS will choose what projects to endorse
    • Identify the components (measurements, deployments deferred, sustained operations) in jeopardy and funding sources for Board
    • Strawman data call draft {Roman, Toll, Rabalais} before Holiday December 2007; draft to Board and Committee Chairs; GCOOS Office will provide contact list. Send out call early 2008 to OOSs.
  • Continue support to currently funded projects (any funding source) and projects approved for submission (e.g., NOAA projects: RA support, data nodes, data portal/ROC, HF radar, met instrumentation, 3-D model)
  • Articulate high priority observational architectures (integration communications, etc.)
    • Examples: HABS, hypoxia, weather/ocean forecasting/inundation (including surface currents, upper ocean heat content & maps of offshore mesoscale features, topography/bathymetry), air-sea CO2 fluxes and fate of riverine carbon inputs (carbon observatory), habitat)
    • Identify who instrumentation will support (research + other applications, e.g., climate, ecosystem assessments); may lead to identification of additional funding sources (e.g., strong research project might use NSF as potential source of support)
    • What gaps are being filled by the architecture?
  • Develop cost/benefit analyses protocols and studies by economic and other professionals
    • Examples: PORTS C/B (NOS) – Hauke Kite-Powell (MIT) – Galveston & Tampa; Jerry Ault (RSMAS) for fisheries; COE for coastal/wetlands restoration; USDA study on watershed-wide C/B including costs of hypoxic zone (Hypoxia Task Force activity); HABs costs for tourism and medical (WHOI person)
  • Review, synthesize, and prioritize existing needs assessments relative to observations and to products & services (e.g., GCSC, GOMA, Hypoxia Task Force, GCOOS Stakeholder Workshops, Public Health Task Force, etc.)
  • Develop GCOOS QA/QC policies and best practices as relates to data collection, products and communications; then implement
    • Use existing and developing community-developed standards (e.g., QARTOD, ROWG, EPA protocols for lab analyses/certification, NERRS?, Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), ACT sensor studies, industry studies)
    • Provide inputs to developing standards/protocols
    • GCOOS RA needs a document with best practices/protocol – an element of the Data Management Plan
  • Integrate outreach/extension communications into numbers 1-6 above
    • How to make people aware of what GCOOS has to offer
  • Actions for Board:
    • Letter to MMS on ADCP data
    • Inquiry to CSC on incorporation of federal observations in IOOS Observations Registry (Howard); if not, recommend that the registry include them (letter from NFRA)
  • All to provide to Howard what displays of information are wanted from the IOOS Observations Registry