ISO, FGDC, DIF and Dublin Core - Making Sense of Metadata Standards for Earth Science Data

Friday, 19 December 2014
Philip R Jones1, Nancy A Ritchey1, Ge Peng2, Valerie A Toner1 and Heather Brown1, (1)National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC, United States, (2)NC State University, Asheville, NC, United States
Metadata standards provide common definitions of metadata fields for information exchange across user communities. Despite the broad adoption of metadata standards for Earth science data, there are still heterogeneous and incompatible representations of information due to differences between the many standards in use and how each standard is applied. Federal agencies are required to manage and publish metadata in different metadata standards and formats for various data catalogs. In 2014, the NOAA National Climatic data Center (NCDC) managed metadata for its scientific datasets in ISO 19115-2 in XML, GCMD Directory Interchange Format (DIF) in XML, DataCite Schema in XML, Dublin Core in XML, and Data Catalog Vocabulary (DCAT) in JSON, with more standards and profiles of standards planned. Of these standards, the ISO 19115-series metadata is the most complete and feature-rich, and for this reason it is used by NCDC as the source for the other metadata standards. We will discuss the capabilities of metadata standards and how these standards are being implemented to document datasets. Successful implementations include developing translations and displays using XSLTs, creating links to related data and resources, documenting dataset lineage, and establishing best practices. Benefits, gaps, and challenges will be highlighted with suggestions for improved approaches to metadata storage and maintenance.