• Data are available with minimal delay
  • Data are freely available
  • Metadata are provided for all data
  • Data are machine-readable and in standard formats

Standards, Formats and Protocols:

IOOS follows the NOAA Data Sharing Directive for NOAA Grants, Cooperative Agreements, and Contracts. In this Directive “Data sharing” means making data publicly visible and accessible in a timely manner at no cost (or no more than the cost of reproduction), in a format which is machine-readable and based on open standards, along with providing the metadata necessary to find and properly use the data.

Available Resources:

On the Data Standards and Requirements page, data providers can find links to the protocols for:

General guidance on Quality Assurance for Real Time Oceanographic Data (QARTOD) can be found here.

GEOSS data implementation guidelines


IOOS, being a part of the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS), ascribes to the GEOSS data sharing principles. The basic intent of these principles is for full and open exchange of data and metadata with minimum possible cost, delay and restriction. IOOS also aims to abide by the FAIR principles for Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reuse of digital assets. In particular, observations gathered with IOOS funding are made freely available. In some instances, IOOS® data providers may act as a “clearinghouse” for other lower capacity or smaller scale providers.

The IOOS Regional Coastal Observing System (RCOS) Certification Requirements Guidance specifies an IOOS data provider/RCOS:

Adheres to the NOAA Data Sharing Procedural Directive. RCOS are operational systems, therefore RCOS’ should strive to provide as much data as possible, in real-time or near real-time, to support the operation of the System. When data are collected in part or in whole with funds distributed to a RA/RCOS through the U.S. IOOS Office, the RCOS should strive to make the data available as soon as logistically feasible for each data stream. When data are not collected with funds distributed to a RCOS through the U.S. IOOS Office, the data may be made available in accordance with any agreement made with the data provider.

Documentation required as a part of the RCOS Certification process:

The RCOS provides or references a Plan that describes how the RCOS is in compliance with the NOAA Data Sharing Procedural Directive. All data providers that are at least partially funded by the RCOS should share their data with the RCOS and the RCOS should strive to make the data available as soon as logistically feasible for each data stream. Descriptions or documentation of sharing agreements are necessary. This not only applies to assets fully funded by the RCOS, but also to missions funded by the RCOS using an instrument that may not be originally funded by the RCOS.