The Loop Current System (LCS) is the dominant physical forcing agent in the Gulf of Mexico. Despite its influence on many societally and economically important processes, it remains poorly understood. LCS dynamics must be better characterized before significant improvements to the accuracy of numerical models can be made. Enhanced forecasts require access to long time series of quality oceanographic and hydrographic data, and facilities capable of continually updating collections with the best available and most recent data.
This project proposes the design, development, deployment, and maintenance of an information system, hereafter called the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current Data Hub (GulfHub). The work lays the foundation to support the end-to-end Loop Current information needs of scientists, and supports the forthcoming 10-year campaign to understand the LCS dynamics in the Gulf of Mexico.
The development of GulfHub will be led by the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS). GCOOS is the only NOAA-certified Regional Information Coordinating Entity dedicated to curating data from the Gulf of Mexico. GCOOS collects and archives extensive oceanographic data in near-real-time and adheres to all NOAA IOOS core capacity requirements including for data access, formats, metadata standards as well as implements QARTOD recommendations for quality control. GulfHub will adhere to the same requirements.
In addition to GCOOS-RA data holdings, including high-resolution bathymetry, GulfHub will integrate datasets from: (i) federal sources (BOEM, BSEE, and NOAA), (ii) international sources that will include previously unavailable data sources from Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Mexico, and data from trinational reports; (iii) privately held data from the oil and gas industry, and (iv) from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Information and Data Cooperative (GRIIDC).
Integration of this proprietary data is possible because of GCOOS-RA’s existing relationships with industry partners. GulfHub will consolidate all these data using a modular and automated approach to integrate data. Wherever possible data will be stored as CF 1.6 compliant netCDF and data access services will include OPeNDAP, WMS, and ERDDAP. ERDDAP is emerging as the preference of modelers due to its ease of use. Throughout the project, outreach and engagement with industry will continue and is anticipated to lead to release of further data not previously published in GulfHub.
GulfHub, developed as an open source project, will incorporate: (i) a data browse function to facilitate data gaps analyses with respect to temporal, geospatial spread and density; (ii) data access via a high-performance network that is secure, and reliable; (iii) unrestricted use of downloaded data and automated submission of all data to NCEI for long-term archival via the GCOOS facilities. The project will establish a Technical Advisory Committee, comprised of key researchers from academia and industry lead by Dr.Steve Dimarco and Dr. Bruce Magnell, who conducted the two most recent major synthesis projects of Loop Current data the Gulf of Mexico. This project is funded through the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine Gulf Research Program.