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 nameCF NameStatus
Ground temperaturetemperature_in_groundAdded (v78)
Excess iceice_volume_in_frozen_ground_
Added (v78)
Ice saturation indexratio_of_ice_volume_in_frozen_ground_
Added (v78)
Thaw depthdepth_at_base_of_unfrozen_groundAdded (v78)
Frozen thermal conductivitythermal_conductivity_of_frozen_groundAdded (v78)
Frozen heat capacityspecific_heat_capacity_of_frozen_groundAdded (v78)
Gravel content by massmass_fraction_of_gravel_in_soilAdded (v78)
Sand content by massmass_fraction_of_sand_in_soilAdded (v78)
Silt content by massmass_fraction_of_silt_in_soilAdded (v78)
Clay content by massmass_fraction_of_clay_in_soilAdded (v78)
Organic matter content by massmass_fraction_of_organic_matter_in_soilAdded (v78)
Soil water pHsoil_water_phAdded (v78)

Permafrost related terms added to v78 of the CF Standard Name vocabulary by NSERC PermafrostNet

Categories: Blog


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