BODC parameter codes

During the exchange of data communication problems may arise between scientists. Parameter dictionaries are used to label parameters with a standard description rather than allowing personal interpretation.

The development of parameter dictionaries is by no means new to oceanographic data management.  In the 1980s, when we first started managing oceanographic data our dictionary contained less than twenty parameters. Our involvement, in the 1990s, in the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) led to its rapid expansion to 9000 parameters and today we have entries for almost 22,000 physical, chemical, biological and geological parameters. Our Data Scientists assign these parameter codes to all data held in our National Oceanographic Database (NODB) or Project Database.

The BODC Parameter Dictionary

The BODC Parameter Dictionary is a collection of controlled vocabularies for parameter management. The BODC Parameter Usage Vocabulary contains over 40,000 terms that are designed to label data values. These have been systematically constructed using a semantic model.

Navigation through such a large number of parameters is a daunting task. To help with this, a 3-layer hierarchy of discovery keywords is provided. The top level is the SeaDataNet Parameter Disciplines, followed by the SeaDataNet Agreed Parameter Groups and the BODC Parameter Discovery Vocabulary.

All the above hot links deliver plain XML documents designed for machine processing and not human-readable display. The following are links to formatted versions of the vocabularies.

Simple Knowledge Organisation Systems (SKOS) mappings between these vocabularies are available as XML documents.

A useful scientific resource

We encourage research scientists to use our Parameter Dictionary when labelling their data. Instead of using long titles for parameters they can assign an individual code from the dictionary. This eliminates communication problems and eases data transfer. The codes translate into parameter descriptions that conform to standardised syntax and vocabulary and have a rich set of classification mappings available, with more under development.