PDS workshop 2016

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This page aims to summarize initial discussions from the June 2016 workshop on the subject of data and metadata standards for paleoclimate data. Notes came chiefly from Bronwen Konecky and Wendy Gross. The workshop was hosted at NOAA's offices in Boulder, CO, supported by the EarthCube program of the US National Science Foundation and (for international participants) by the Past Global Changes (PAGES) organization.


Last Name First Name Institution Country
Arko Robert LDEO USA
Biondi Franco UNR USA
Bradley Elizabeth CU Boulder USA
Cobb Kim GaTech USA
Dekens Petra SFSU USA
DeLong Kristine LSU USA
Farley Scott U Wisc USA
Fils Douglas ocean leadership USA
Goring Simon U. Wisc USA
Grimm Eric Illinois Sate Museum USA
Hatfield Robert OSU USA
Horlick Kaleb NOAA/COAS USA
Kaufman Darrell NAU USA
Konecky Bronwen COAS/CU Boulder USA
Lyubchich Slava UMCES USA
Marcott Shaun U. Wisc USA
Morrison Alexander UMN USA
Noren Anders LACCORE USA
Noronha Alexandra UT Austin USA
Partin Jud UT Austin USA
Richey Julie USGS USA
Schmittner Andreas OSU USA
Scott Donna NSIDC USA
Steig Eric UW USA
Thirumalai Kaustubh UT Austin USA
Waite Amanda USF USA
Weiss Izaak CU Boulder USA
Williams Jack U. Wisc USA
Cartapanis Olivier U. Bern Switzerland
Davis Basil U. Lausanne Switzerland
Jonkers Lukas MARUM Germany

LinkedEarth Team Members

Last Name First Name Institution Country
Heiser Chris NAU USA
Khider Deborah USC USA
McKay Nick NAU USA
Emile-Geay Julien USC USA
Gil Yolanda USC/ISI USA


Last Name First Name Institution Country
Wahl Eugene WDC Paleo USA
Morrill Carrie WDC Paleo USA
Thrasher Bridget WDC Paleo USA
Gross Wendy WDC Paleo USA
Bauer Bruce WDC Paleo USA
Gille Edward WDC Paleo USA


While more (meta)data seems universally better, workshop participants identified the necessity to distinguish a set of essential, recommended and desired properties for each dataset. A consensus emerged that the definition of these levels should be archive-specific, as what is needed to intelligently re-use a marine-annually resolved record could be quite different than what is needed to intelligently re-use an ice core record, for instance. It was decided that archive-centric working groups would be best positioned to elaborate and discuss the components of a data standard for their specific sub-field of paleoclimatology.

Essential metadata

The conversation was guided by the following questions:

  1. What does “essential” mean (vs. highly desirable)?
  2. Who is the target audience/who are the end-users?
  3. What are the scientific end-goals?

For #1, it was determined that:

  • "Essential" = data cannot be uploaded without it (the dataset would be utterly useless without any of this information missing)
  • "Essential metadata" should mean something different for legacy datasets vs. new datasets
  • "Essential" may vary by archive type

Overall, it was decided that separate "essential metadata" criteria needed to be applied to existing datasets vs. new datasets. In other words, the paleoclimate community should adopt stricter standards for what is essential in upcoming datasets, rather than being limited by the realities of old datasets.

For existing datasets, the following was deemed essential:

  • A table with at least two columns, one representing time, the other a climate indicator of some sort
  • Geolocation : coordinates, polygons, or, in cases where coordinates or polygons cannot be given, general location info)
  • Source: PI, contributor, or database (first author of publication if published, or some other person who can speak for the dataset if not published/if the first author is no longer in science/etc)
  • Names and Units of the variables in the dataset

Recommended Metadata

Moving forward, the paleodata community should adopt the following guidelines for what is 'essential':

  • All the above criteria, plus:
  • Archive type
  • measured material (i.e. what physical medium was the measurement made on)
  • uncertainty on measured variables (at the very least, analytical uncertainty on raw measurements)
  • Depth as well as age
  • Native observations (e.g. Mg/Ca measurements, BEFORE calibration to temperature)
  • age control points and other relevant age model info

Desired metadata

  • age-uncertain ensembles (realizations of the timeseries X(t) for different age model paths)
  • calibration ensembles (e.g. posterior draws from a Bayesian temperature calibration)


The workshop report (short, as specified by the PAGES Newsletter) is available here