NOAA releases 2013 World Ocean Database: The largest collection of scientific information about the oceans

NOAA has released the 2013 World Ocean Database, the largest, most comprehensive collection of scientific information about the oceans, with records dating as far back as 1772. The 2013 database updates the 2009 version and contains nearly 13 million temperature profiles, compared with 9.1 in the 2009 database, and just fewer than six million salinity measurements, compared with 3.5 in the previous database. It integrates ocean profile data from approximately 90 countries around the world, collected from buoys, ships, gliders, and other instruments used to measure the “pulse” of the ocean.

Profile data of the ocean are measurements taken at many depths, from the surface to the floor, at a single location, during the time it takes to lower and raise the measuring instruments through the water. "This product is a powerful tool being used by scientists around the globe to study how changes in the ocean can impact weather and climate," said Tim Boyer, an oceanographer with NOAA’s National Oceanographic Data Center.

In addition to using the vast amount of temperature and salinity measurements to monitor changes in heat and salt content, the database captures other measurements, including: oxygen, nutrients, chlorofluorocarbons and chlorophyll, which all reveal the oceans’ biological structure.

Also, forecasters at NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center, part of NOAA’s National Weather Service, use the information from the database for quality control of real-time oceanographic information it distributes.

The database is an important part of the larger Global Ocean Observing System, which is the ocean component of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems – key efforts designed to maintain reliable oceanic information. The data was compiled by scientists at NOAA’s National Oceanographic Data Center, which is part of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.