About the data archive

Types of data

The types of data included in the archive include :

Geographic coverage

The contents include data from B.C. coastal waters and inlets, B.C. continental shelf waters, open ocean North Pacific waters, Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Archipelago.

Time period

The contributions from the Institute of Ocean Sciences begin in the mid-1970's (when the Institute opened), but we have added data from the various departments and agencies that preceded IOS. These data were recovered from digital files, paper copies or retrieved from the Marine Environmental Data Service (MEDS), Department of Fisheries and Oceans. MEDS maintains the national archives of water property profiles and other data. At present, the archives contain data from the the 1930's to present. There is little data before the mid-1950's.

How are the data stored?

The data in the DATA_LIBRARY are stored in ASCII files in IOS HEADER format. This is a custom data format which includes a great deal of metadata and supporting information in addition to the actual measurements. The data format is fully readable by humans (as well as by machines). The files are stored in directories, by CRUISE and PROJECT. This means that data for a given location, but collected during different cruises/projects will be "sprinkled" throughout the archive (more on this later).

How can I work with these data?

The DATA_LIBRARY is not accessible (directly) via the Internet/WWW. Users must contact the Senior Analyst  to arrange for access to these data. In most cases, this will require a data use licence agreement and fee.

How do I find the data that I need?

The "flip" side of having a large archive is that any individual user will only be interested in a small subset, and this subset may not be "grouped" in the same manner as the file and directory structure in the DATA_LIBRARY. We have created a searchable database of "header" information (time, date, latitude, longitude, parameters sampled etc.) for all the data in the DATA_LIBRARY. This database may be searched and "pointers" to the location of the data in the DATA_LIBRARY will be returned. Simple queries can be carried out using this WEB-based application. For more complex queries, please contact the Senior Analyst. Queries will return "pointers" to the location of data files in the DATA_LIBRARY. These "pointers" are actually a list of data files (including path) in the DATA_LIBRARY. These "lists" of files can be used directly as input file specifiers by IOS SHELL programs or used by custom programs.