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Ocean Carbon Data System

The Ocean Carbon Data System (OCADS) is an NCEI data management project responsible for hosting and providing access to ocean carbon and chemical datasets collected from around the world, as previously performed by the Oceans component of the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC-Oceans) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

The OCADS project is funded by  NOAA/NCEI, NOAA/CPO/NOAA's Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing Program (GOMO), NOAA/Ocean Acidification Program (OAP), and NASA.

Access Methods

OCADS develops stewardship and management solutions for the enormous, diverse collection of CO2 data gathered by U.S. and international ocean-observing programs, including discrete and underway measurements from a variety of platforms, depths, and oceanic regions. All ocean carbon data OCADS receives is provided by individual investigators and groups, following initial data review.

Metadata Preparation

Download the metadata submission form and add your information to Column C. Refer to the instructions for help with specific metadata elements. Use the help index numbers on the left side of the page to reference the description index on the right.

About the Form

  • Required sections are marked in red. Unmarked sections are optional, but we suggest including out as much information as possible. Ignore sections that don’t apply to your data, even if they include elements marked as required.
  • The “variable metadata section” refers to measured/derived property such as temperature, oxygen or pH. Predetermined descriptors like location coordinates, bottle number, quality flags, standard deviations, etc are considered independent variables and don’t require a separate section.
  • Please avoid using special characters, e.g., μ, ±, ℃, etc. wherever possible.

To ensure a smooth transition, OCADS will continue to accept metadata files in the OME format in the foreseeable future.

Preparation and Formatting

We recommend using ASCII character encoding (e.g., comma-separated values (CSV), Excel, etc.) or NetCDF file format, but no specific format is required. Do not use commercial proprietary data file formats.

Follow the templates below as closely as possible, but feel free to remove or add columns as needed:

Underway data
Column header names description | Data file (csv) example
Profile data (e.g., CTD, discrete bottle water samples, etc)
Column header names description | Data file (csv) example
Mooring data (e.g., buoys)
Column header names description | Data file (csv) example

We recommend using CCHDO parameters and WOCE quality control flags whenever possible.


Send small (less than 20MB) data files to, and cc with your project name and Ocean Acidification Dataset in the subject line. If you are submitting multiple datasets, send one email for each submission, and use different email subject lines.

If your data files are too large to send as email attachments, submit them through File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and email and cc to let us know that an ocean acidification data set was submitted to NCEI for archival.

See sample FTP data submission

Ocean Carbon Dioxide

Rising atmospheric CO2 and climate change are increasing ocean temperatures and affecting ocean chemistry (for example, ocean acidification). Monitoring these important changes using ships and other platforms generates large amounts of data from heterogenous sources. Since its inception in 1993 as the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center(CDIAC) Ocean Carbon Data Management Project, OCADS has been organizing, quality assuring, documenting, archiving and disseminating ocean carbon-related data collected via a number of U.S. and international ocean-observing programs.

The OCADS ocean carbon data collection includes discrete and underway measurements from a variety of platforms (including research ships, commercial ships, and buoys). The measurements come from deep and shallow waters from all oceans. Technological advances make it possible to deliver ocean carbon data real-time but questions about instrument reliability and data quality limit this practice at this moment. All ocean carbon data OCADS receives is provided by individual investigators and groups, following initial data review.