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The Comparative Assessment of Gulf Estuarine ecoSystems (CAGES)


GCOOS Pilot Project – The Comparative Assessment of Gulf Estuarine ecoSystems (CAGES) Program

GCOOS initiated a pilot project with the CAGES program to increase biological data availability and interoperability in the Gulf of Mexico.  The pilot project was funded by the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Office as part of the IOOS Biological Observations Data Project http://www.ioos.noaa.gov/biological_observations/welcome.html . The objective of Biological Observations Data Project, (BDP) is to help develop an efficient and effective information infrastructure for biological observations databases, adding components and web links as necessary to serve customers/end-users. These databases typically come from disparate organizations, institutions and individuals for differing purposes and have locally specific structure, contents, methods, and policies. In addition, these data and applications are diverse and can change over time (e.g., data from one source might contain different variables depending on when the data were collected). An important GCOOS and IOOS goal is to enable a multi-disciplinary view of the ocean environment by facilitating discovery and integration of data from various sources, projects and scientific do-mains. IOOS data management functional requirements are based upon guidelines for standardized data access services, data formats, metadata, controlled vocabularies, and other conventions. To date, the data integration effort has focused on geophysical variables such as temperature, salinity, ocean currents, etc. This GCOOS pilot project with the CAGES program is an opportunity to enhance fisheries data availability and interoperability in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The CAGES program is designed to examine the differences between estuarine ecosystems and investigate why some are more productive than others. The program focuses on estuarine areas important to commercial fisheries and includes data on commercial finfish and invertebrate species, as well as other species commonly captured in trawl sampling. NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)-Galveston stores the CAGES fishery-independent data contributed by natural resource agencies of the Gulf States (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida) in a relational database.  Although the relational database is a useful for storing the data, it is not very user-friendly nor is it designed for machine-to-machine interoperability.

GCOOS, through the pilot project, aims to enhance accessibility and interoperability of this important biological data, often collected and stored according to different methodologies, through the use of a NOAA Environmental Research Division. 

The ERDDAP server is a data server that provides users a simple, consistent way to download subsets of scientific datasets in common file formats and make graphs and maps. In addition to the ERDDAP server, the pilot project employs common terminology and conventions, such as, the IOOS Biological Data Terms, Darwin Core and IOOS XML guidelines, Climate-Forecast conventions for NetCDF files, and Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) and International Standards Organization (ISO) 19115-2 metadata standards (Figure 1). The NOAA National Data Development Center (NCDDC) is developing the FGDC and ISO 19115-2 metadata for the CAGES pilot. 

Go to ERDDAP Server