by Nick Brown, NSERC PermafrostNet Data Scientist
Everyone’s been there. You are about to publish your dataset, but you’ve just spent the last half-hour trying to decide on the best formatting and naming conventions. Should that column be named “ground temperature”, “soil_temperature”, or just “Tg”? Maybe you should include units too; “ground_temperature_degree_C” has a ring to it. But how will other people know exactly what your dataset represents? Good metadata is the answer.
You may not realize it, but there are resources to help you in this situation. The CF Standard name table is a curated list of terms used to unambiguously identify the kinds of measurements in a dataset. For self-describing formats like netcdf, you can include these attributes directly in your data file, following the CF standards. Or, if you are publishing your data in a text file, like a CSV, you can include the information about each column in your dataset in a separate metadata file. This way, the name of your data column doesn’t have to do so much work describing itself.
Michel Paquette, Theme 1 Post-doctoral Fellow (Université de Montréal, NSERC PermafrostNet) and I have coordinated the inclusion of 12 additional permafrost-related terms (see table below) in the latest release of the Standard Names vocabulary (version 78). These terms will be particularly useful for field scientists wanting to make their published datasets more interoperable and for data publishers who host permafrost-related data. An additional 14 terms relevant to permafrost science have since been requested. The addition of permafrost-related terms contributes to improved data interoperability with the atmospheric science and modelling communities, where the CF terms are widely used.
For an up-to-date list of permafrost-related terms added to the CF names list by NSERC PermafrostNet, visit the Data Standard Recommendations page.
|Common name||CF Name||Status|
|Ground temperature||temperature_in_ground||Added (v78)|
|Ice saturation index||ratio_of_ice_volume_in_frozen_ground_|
|Thaw depth||depth_at_base_of_unfrozen_ground||Added (v78)|
|Frozen thermal conductivity||thermal_conductivity_of_frozen_ground||Added (v78)|
|Frozen heat capacity||specific_heat_capacity_of_frozen_ground||Added (v78)|
|Gravel content by mass||mass_fraction_of_gravel_in_soil||Added (v78)|
|Sand content by mass||mass_fraction_of_sand_in_soil||Added (v78)|
|Silt content by mass||mass_fraction_of_silt_in_soil||Added (v78)|
|Clay content by mass||mass_fraction_of_clay_in_soil||Added (v78)|
|Organic matter content by mass||mass_fraction_of_organic_matter_in_soil||Added (v78)|
|Soil water pH||soil_water_ph||Added (v78)|
Permafrost related terms added to v78 of the CF Standard Name vocabulary by NSERC PermafrostNet