Locating Data

There are three ways to locate data within the Data Library: 1) a listing of some of the datasets by category; 2) a complete list of datasets according to their source; and 3) a keyword search powered by Google.

Let's look at each one of these individually.

Data By Category

Select the "Data by Category" link. CHECK
This data discovery option provides a sorted listing of a few of the datasets in the Data Library based on the type of data they contain. A summary of each dataset, including a brief description, spatial and temporal resolutions, and spatial and temporal limits, is also offered. Feel free to browse the data categories. Note that the dataset names are also links to the datasets themselves.

Data By Source

Select the "Data by Source" link on the first page. CHECK
This is a complete list of the datasets in the Data Library organized by their source. This method of finding datasets is typically utilized by users who are more familiar with climatic data and the providers that make it available. Below the "Datasets and variables" heading you see the list of sources and either a brief description of the source or a list of the subsections of data from that source. For example, let's take a closer look at one of the largest contributors of data to the Data Library, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Scroll down to the "NOAA" link.
You can see that there are five subsections of data from NOAA. These include the National Oceanic Data Center (NODC), National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis Project (NCEP-NCAR), and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

Select the "NOAA" link.
You can now see these same five subsections as links to more data. We can get to the same NOAA NCEP CPC GLOBAL monthly STATION dataset main page that we looked at before by selecting the proper source links here.

Select the "NCEP" link.
Select the "CPC" link.
Select the "GSOD" link.
Select the "MONTHLY" link.
We are now back at the NOAA NCEP CPC GSOD MONTHLY dataset main page. Again, note the source bar. It has the same series of links that we saw before and represents the same steps we took from the Data by Source page to get here.

Note the blue navigation banner again. Remember we talked about the links changing in the banner to represent the hierarchy of the current page? The banner on this page is an excellent example. We are in the Data by Source partition of the Finding Data section off the main Data Library page. You can find links from each of these hierarchical levels on the banner. Use this navigation banner to help yourself remain oriented as you move through the Data Library.

Data By Searching

Select the "Data Library" link in the navigation banner. CHECK There is a search box at the top of the page.

This is a popular option for those who know exactly what dataset they want, but don't know where it is in the Data Library, as well as for those who are not sure what they are looking for at all. The hints listed on this page are valuable and worthy of a bit more discussion.

1. If you are looking for data from weather station reports, then include the word "station" as one of your keywords.

The Data Library includes data from weather stations as well as gridded data. While searching with the word "station" often locates station data, including the word "grid" in a search will not effectively locate gridded datasets as it is commonly used on the pages of both types of datasets.

Entering the specific name of your desired station as a keyword will not help your search either. For example, suppose you want to find precipitation data for a station in Seattle.

Enter the keywords "precipitation Seattle".
There are no matches for that search. However, this does not mean that the Data Library does not contain any datasets with precipitation data for Seattle.

Enter the keywords "precipitation station".
You have now found a handful of datasets that contain station-reported precipitation data. Data from specific stations (e.g., Seattle) can be located after a dataset is selected and we will discuss how to do that in Part II.

2. If you are looking for a particular variable, then include the variable name as one of your keywords.
As in the example above, we included "precipitation" as a keyword in our search for precipitation data.

You may also find it valuable to use your desired temporal resolution as a keyword as well. For example, suppose you want to find daily data of maximum temperature.

Enter the keywords "maximum temperature monthly".
This search yields a list primarily consisting of datasets that contain monthly data of maximum temperature. Note the difference compared to the search results if you are looking for daily temperature data.

Enter the keywords "maximum temperature daily".
This technique will have different results for different variables, but it may be worth a try if you know your desired temporal resolution. Because this is not a fool-proof method, you should always confirm the temporal resolution of any dataset you find in this manner by noting its time grid. A more descriptive discussion of grids is in a subsequent section.

Making sense of the search results
Selecting a dataset from the search results is generally straightforward, but it could be made more clear with a brief discussion. All of the instruction in Part II will begin from a dataset main page. Therefore, the following discussion describes how to get to a dataset main page from the different kinds of pages that may appear in your search results. Let's use the search results for "maximum temperature daily" as an example. One of options in the search results is NOAA NCDC DAILY FSOD TMAX.

Select this link in the search results or you can reach it by clicking here*. CHECK

This is a dataset variable page. Specifically, it is the maximum temperature variable page of the NOAA NCDC DAILY FSOD TMAX dataset. While you may want to use maximum temperature data, it is often best to start your work from a dataset main page where you have the opportunity to select any of the variables available in that datatset. In this case, we want to start from the NOAA NCDC DAILY FSOD TMAX main page. There are numerous ways to reach a main page from a variable page. This time we will use the source bar near the top of the page. The source bar is the series of links that describes the dataset and variable that is currently selected. You will see this bar on all of the pages in the Data Library.

Select the "FSOD" link in the source bar. CHECK
You are now on the NOAA NCDC DAILY FSOD main page. Note how the source bar on this page is different from the one on the dataset variable page. Here, on the dataset main page, no variable has been selected so the lowest level link on the source bar is the dataset itself.

There are other types of pages that may be included in search results, such as dataset help, outline, and documentation pages. You can always find your way back to the associated dataset main page with the source bar links or by using the blue navigation banner in the upper left corner. This banner appears on all of the Data Library pages. The specific links on the banner will change as you move through the Data Library and will always be dictated by the hierarchy of the current page. Simply click on the link that says "dataset" in white. Sometimes there may be a link that says "documention" in white instead, like it does on the current NOAA NCDC DAILY FSOD page. That link will take to the dataset documentation and then a white "dataset" link will appear.