Articles | Volume 2, issue 1
Research article
27 Jun 2013
Research article |  | 27 Jun 2013

The AmeriFlux data activity and data system: an evolving collection of data management techniques, tools, products and services

T. A. Boden, M. Krassovski, and B. Yang

Abstract. The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), USA has provided scientific data management support for the US Department of Energy and international climate change science since 1982. Among the many data archived and available from CDIAC are collections from long-term measurement projects. One current example is the AmeriFlux measurement network. AmeriFlux provides continuous measurements from forests, grasslands, wetlands, and croplands in North, Central, and South America and offers important insight about carbon cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. To successfully manage AmeriFlux data and support climate change research, CDIAC has designed flexible data systems using proven technologies and standards blended with new, evolving technologies and standards. The AmeriFlux data system, comprised primarily of a relational database, a PHP-based data interface and a FTP server, offers a broad suite of AmeriFlux data. The data interface allows users to query the AmeriFlux collection in a variety of ways and then subset, visualize and download the data. From the perspective of data stewardship, on the other hand, this system is designed for CDIAC to easily control database content, automate data movement, track data provenance, manage metadata content, and handle frequent additions and corrections. CDIAC and researchers in the flux community developed data submission guidelines to enhance the AmeriFlux data collection, enable automated data processing, and promote standardization across regional networks. Both continuous flux and meteorological data and irregular biological data collected at AmeriFlux sites are carefully scrutinized by CDIAC using established quality-control algorithms before the data are ingested into the AmeriFlux data system. Other tasks at CDIAC include reformatting and standardizing the diverse and heterogeneous datasets received from individual sites into a uniform and consistent network database, generating high-level derived products to meet the current demands from a broad user group, and developing new products in anticipation of future needs. In this paper, we share our approaches to meet the challenges of standardizing, archiving and delivering quality, well-documented AmeriFlux data worldwide to benefit others with similar challenges of handling diverse climate change data, to further heighten awareness and use of an outstanding ecological data resource, and to highlight expanded software engineering applications being used for climate change measurement data.