What is IQuOD?

Advancing our understanding of climate variability and change and associated socio-economic and environmental impacts demands unbiased climate data of the highest quality, consistency and completeness. Long-term historical records are critical to place modern ocean properties in context with the past, and to separate the influence of anthropogenic drivers of change from the modes of natural climate variability.

Subsurface ocean temperature and salinity are two of the Essential Climate Variables which provide a direct window into changes in the Earth's planetary heat balance, water cycle and sea level. Furthermore, subsurface ocean observations are widely used to evaluate and initialize model simulations, and are also assimilated into ocean and climate models. Well quantified observed changes are essential to guide the interpretation of projected future changes to the Earth’s climate.

One of today’s big challenges is the need to maximize the full potential of an irreplaceable collection of tens of millions of historical temperature profiles – collected since 1772 and worth tens of billions of dollars – and apply it to a vast range of climate-related research, applications and services. Despite independent efforts over the past few decades by a number of research organisations who have attempted to assemble, rescue and quality-control (QC) subsurface ocean profiles, the global historical profile database still contains a relatively large fraction of biased, duplicated and substandard quality data and metadata that can confound climate-related applications.

The IQuOD (International Quality-controlled Ocean Database) effort is being organized by the oceanographic community, and includes experts in data quality and management, climate modellers and the broader climate-related community. The primary focus of IQuOD is to produce and freely distribute the highest quality and complete single ocean profile repository along with (intelligent) metadata and assigned uncertainties for use in ocean climate research applications. This goal will be achieved by developing and implementing an internationally-agreed framework.

The IQuOD Objective

To construct a climate-quality ocean temperature database (later moving to other variables), with a consistent quality control (QC) standard. The database will be continually updated into the future.


The IQUOD project members will initially design the QC methods and apply them to the historical database (all records that are publicly available). IQuOD Member countries/organisations will apply these QC methods to their current temperature data streams to continue adding to the database into the future.


The ‘IQUOD standard’ database, with consistent quality control that is continually updated, will be invaluable for data assimilation, anthropogenic warming estimates, ocean heat content and sea level change estimates.


IQuOD structure


IQuOD Goal

Produce a historical climate-quality subsurface ocean temperature database with quality flags and uncertainties.


The IQuOD historical temperature profile database covering years 1772 to present.

How will it be achieved

  • Gather together an international group of ocean data quality experts, climate scientists, data assimilators and ocean instrumental experts.
  • Complete benchmarking tests and on automated quality control (QC) methods.
  • Complete benchmarking tests and on visual/expert quality control (QC) methods.
  • Development of data formats, metadata requirements, data quality flags and application of uncertainty measurements.
  • Identify/recruit/fund visual/expert data QC operators and automated QC operators.
  • Develop the automated and manual/expert QC tools required for data QC operators.
  • Aggregate existing historical subsurface temperature profiles.
  • Apply these methods and formats to the historical subsurface temperature profile database:
  • The IQuOD products will be served via NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

Additional goals:

  • Encourage participation from non-member countries in the form of data additions, expertise on particular instrument types, or funding for personnel to perform QC tasks.
  • Encourage data rescue and rescue of metadata for all data types to be added initially to the World Ocean Database (WOD) and ultimately into the IQuOD project.
  • Incorporate additional data types. For example: salinity, oxygen.
  • Incorporate additional datasets & data experts. For example: SST, TAO array, coastal moorings.
  • Provide tools and support for QC of new and additional datasets to enable incorporation of these datasets into IQuOD.
  • Continue to update IQuOD with new datasets as they become available.

What do we require for the project to work?

  • Users of observational oceanographic data to provide feedback and information on how they use the data
  • International experts in particular datasets, instruments or regions
  • Commitment of personnel to the project or long-term funding for QC operators
  • For ~10 million historical temperature profiles, it will take 5 full-time operators 2.5 years to just complete the manual/expert QC step

Who's who?

IQuOD members

IQuOD is made up of a variety of scientists, data quality experts, instrument experts and data managers. Below is a list of the members and their affiliations.

IQuOD members

Role Name Affiliation Country
Co-Chair Catia Domingues ACE-CRC Australia
Co-Chair Matthew Palmer UK Met Office UK
Steering Team Rebecca Cowley CSIRO Australia
Steering Team Simon Good UK Met Office UK
Steering Team Tim Boyer NOAA/NCEI US
Steering Team Rachel Killick UK Met Office UK
Steering Team Gustavo Goni NOAA/AOML US
Steering Team Janet Sprintall Scripps US
Steering Team Alison Macdonald WHOI US
Steering Team Shoichi Kizu Tohoku Uninversity Japan
Steering Team Steve Diggs CCHDO US
Steering Team Viktor Gouretski University of Hamburg Germany
Steering Team Charles Sun NOAA/NCEI US
Member Bill Mills Private US
Member Guilherme Castelao UCSD US
Member Marton Hidas IMOS Australia
Member Thierry Carval IFREMER France
Member Christine Coatanoan IFREMER France
Member Francis Bringas NOAA/AOML US
Member Marlos Goes NOAA/AOML US
Member Shenfu Dong NOAA/AOML US
Member Molly Baringer NOAA/AOML US
Member Sergio Ignacio Castillo Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanologicas Mexico
Member Carlos Torres Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanologicas Mexico
Member Mauro Cirano Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Member Lijing Cheng IAP China
Member Yulong Liu National Marine Data and Information Service China
Member Qingsheng Miao National Marine Data and Information Service China
Member Yang Yang National Marine Data and Information Service China
Member Fan Wang Chinese Academy of Sciences China
Member Bin Zhang Chinese Academy of Sciences China
Member Rongwang Zhang Chinese Academy of Sciences China
Member Franco Reseghetti ENEA Centro Ricerche Ambiente Marino S. Teresa Italy
Member Simona Simoncelli Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione di Bologna Italy
Member Matteo Guideri Istituto Idrografico della Marina Italy
Member Tom Rossby Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode US
Member Tata VS Udaya Bhaskar INCOIS India
Member V. Gopalakrishna National Institute of Oceanography India
Member Marcela Charo Servício de Hídrografia Naval Argentina
Member Ariel Troisi Servício de Hídrografia Naval Argentina
Member Toru Suzuki Marine Information Research Center Japan
Member Norio Baba Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department, Japan Coast Guard Japan
Member Masayoshi Ishii Japan Meteorological Agency Japan
Member Yutaka Michida University of Tokyo Japan
Member Tetsuichiro Yabuki Japan Oceanographic Data Center Japan
Member Katherine Hutchinson University of Cape Town South Africa

IQuOD meeting photos

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