Interoperable Access to NCAR Research Data Archive Collections

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Douglas Schuster, Zaihua Ji, Steven J Worley and Kevin Manross, NCAR, Boulder, CO, United States
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Research Data Archive (RDA) provides free access to 600+ observational and gridded dataset collections. The RDA is designed to support atmospheric and related sciences research, updated frequently where datasets have ongoing production, and serves data to 10,000 unique users annually. The traditional data access options include web-based direct archive file downloads, user selected data subsets and format conversions produced by server-side computations, and client and cURL-based APIs for routine scripted data retrieval.

To enhance user experience and utility, the RDA now also offers THREDDS Data Server (TDS) access for many highly valued dataset collections. TDS offered datasets are presented as aggregations, enabling users to access an entire dataset collection, that can be comprised of 1000’s of files, through a single virtual file. The OPeNDAP protocol, supported by the TDS, allows compatible tools to open and access these virtual files remotely, and make the native data file format transparent to the end user. The combined functionality (TDS/OPeNDAP) gives users the ability to browse, select, visualize, and download data from a complete dataset collection without having to transfer archive files to a local host.

This presentation will review the TDS basics and describe the specific TDS implementation on the RDA’s diverse archive of GRIB-1, GRIB-2, and gridded NetCDF formatted dataset collections. Potential future TDS implementation on in-situ observational dataset collections will be discussed. Illustrative sample cases will be used to highlight the end users benefits from this interoperable data access to the RDA.