Project overview

A research scientist in the laboratory using the centrifuge
A research scientist in the laboratory using the centrifuge ©

Why do we need a parameter dictionary?

Data scientists use our Parameter Dictionary for labelling data. Instead of using non-standard descriptions for parameters, they can assign an individual code from the dictionary. The code gives information about what was measured and can include additional information such as how the measurement was made.

During the 1990s we were heavily involved in the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS), which required rapid expansion of the dictionary to about 9000 parameters. When we first started managing oceanographic data in the 1980s, we dealt with less than twenty parameters. This rapid increase in the number of parameters forced us to adopt a new approach to parameter management and develop the dictionary.

In BODC, we now have dictionary entries for more than 16,000 physical, chemical, biological and geological parameters. Sometimes we hold several hundred parameters for a single water bottle sample.

Improving our dictionary

EnParDis is a project to develop our Parameter Dictionary. We are working to incorporate additional parameters from our European partners, as well as to standardise the data description syntax.

Motivation for EnParDis comes from a need to change the organisation of data parameters in our dictionary due to our involvement in projects like NERC DataGrid and SEA-SEARCH Common Data Index. These projects aim to make our data holdings available online.

The latest version of the BODC Parameter Dictionary is available via the NERC Vocabulary Server. Our old BODC Parameter Dictionary (pre January 2004) is no longer maintained. Should you require any further information please contact the BODC Enquiries Officer.

What are our aims?

EnParDis aims to expand and improve the existing BODC Parameter Dictionary into an international standard vocabulary, whilst at the same time raising its profile amongst the marine data management community. The project also aims to increase interoperability between the BODC Parameter Dictionary and dictionaries that have been developed by other organisations. EnParDis will examine the potential of using new technologies to increase interoperability, such as Extensible Markup Language (XML).

Who is working on the project?

EnParDis is being coordinated by Dr. Roy Lowry, Technical Director of BODC. Funding was provided by NERC from October 2003 until March 2005, but maintenance work will be continued after this time to keep the dictionary up to date.

We are working with scientists from other international centres in order to provide a dictionary which can be used by everyone.

  • National Institute for Coastal and Marine Management (RIKZ), Netherlands
  • Systemes d'Information Scientifiques pour la Mer (SISMER), France
  • United States Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (US JGOFS)
  • Global Change Master Directory (GCMD), United States
  • All-Russia Research Institute of Hydrometeorological Information - World Data Centre (RIHMI-WDC)