QARTOD - Prospects for Real-Time Quality Control Manuals, How to Create Them, and a Vision for Advanced Implementation

Mark Bushnell, CoastalObsTechServices, Virginia Beach, VA, United States, Kathleen Bailey, NOAA NOS U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System, Silver Spring, United States, Julie A Bosch, NOAA / NCEI, Stennis Space Center, United States, Eugene F Burger, NOAA, Boulder, United States, Jennifer Dorton, SouthEast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association, Wilmington, NC, United States, Robert Heitsenrether, NOAA Chesapeake, Chesapeake, VA, United States, Jeff King, USACE, Washington, United States, Shannon McArthur, National Data Buoy Center, Stennis Space Center, MS, United States, Mario Tamburri, University of Maryland (UMCES CBL), Solomons, MD, United States, Julie Thomas, UCSD/SIO/IOD, La Jolla, CA, United States and Christoph Waldmann, MARUM - University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
The U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Quality Assurance / Quality Control of Real-Time Oceanographic Data (QARTOD) project marshaled hundreds of volunteer subject matter experts to identify tests to evaluate real-time data quality by instrument type prior to data dissemination. This quality control step is crucial for the collected environmental information to act as a reference for future observations. An ad hoc effort started in 2004 to ensure the quality of real-time data is now a certification requirement for some observatories. We describe three specific aspirations for QARTOD: revision of existing manuals and identification of new manuals; application of the manual development process; and implementation of the manuals.

Thirteen QARTOD manuals have been developed and published using a documented and successful community-lead process. This process and the resulting manuals now serve as templates for the development of future QARTOD manuals, revisions to existing manuals, and supporting documents. U.S. IOOS will continue to support these efforts.

QARTOD outlines the quality control processes that are required, strongly recommended, and suggested for each sensor type. QARTOD manuals can only be developed when, 1) interoperable data streams are employed, 2) data are disseminated and used in real-time, and 3) there is sufficient community interest. An initial review of U.S. IOOS core variables and Global Ocean Observing System essential ocean variables (considering these three requirements) reveals no remaining variables with an immediate need for manual development. As technology advances, the observational maturity increases for these variables, as will the need for a QARTOD manual.

Technological progress toward autonomous vehicles suggests high potential for real-time quality control to be integrated within field instrumentation. Most required QARTOD tests can be embedded and implemented at the data source, and QARTOD-ready devices likely will be available soon.