International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set

International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set

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The International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set, or ICOADS, is a digital database
A database is an organized collection of data for one or more purposes, usually in digital form. The data are typically organized to model relevant aspects of reality , in a way that supports processes requiring this information...

 of 261 million weather observations
Surface weather observation
Surface weather observations are the fundamental data used for safety as well as climatological reasons to forecast weather and issue warnings worldwide. They can be taken manually, by a weather observer, by computer through the use of automated weather stations, or in a hybrid scheme using...

 made by ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

s, weather ship
Weather ship
A weather ship was a ship stationed in the ocean as a platform for surface and upper air meteorological observations for use in weather forecasting. They were primarily located in the north Atlantic and north Pacific oceans, reporting via radio...

s, and weather buoy
Weather buoy
Weather buoys are instruments which collect weather and ocean data within the world's oceans, as well as aiding during emergency response to chemical spills, legal proceedings, and engineering design. Moored buoys have been in used since 1951, while drifting buoys have been used since 1979...

s spanning the years 1667 to 2007. The database was initially constructed in 1985 and continues to be expanded upon and updated on a regular basis. From the original data, gridded datasets were created. ICOADS information has been useful in determining the reliability of ship and buoy wind measurements, helping to determine temperature trends in the sea surface temperature
Sea surface temperature
Sea surface temperature is the water temperature close to the oceans surface. The exact meaning of surface varies according to the measurement method used, but it is between and below the sea surface. Air masses in the Earth's atmosphere are highly modified by sea surface temperatures within a...

 field, and updating the Atlantic hurricane database
The North Atlantic hurricane database, or HURDAT, is the database for all tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, since 1851.-History:...



Beginning in 1981, the Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere data set (COADS) began construction within the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. In April 1985, the first version of this database was created, including 70 million reports covering the years of 1854 through 1979. Each year thereafter, recent data was added to the dataset to extend its length towards the present. In November 1996, the first gridded datasets were created, using a one degree latitude by one degree longitude grid for the years 1960 through 1993. The following November, they were revised and extended to cover years through 1995. In November 1999, they were extended into 1997. In March 2002, two degree grids were created on a monthly basis for the years 1800 through 1949, and recognize input from other countries such as the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, the database was renamed ICOADS. In November 2000, the database was extended backward to 1784. In September 2002, this data became available through the internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

. In late 2005, data from weather buoys were added into the database. In July 2009, the database was extended back to 1662. Data updates to include recent observations were begun on a monthly basis. The total number of observations in the database is now 261 million.

Available information

ICOADS has a variety of marine meteorological information within it, such as air temperature
Temperature is a physical property of matter that quantitatively expresses the common notions of hot and cold. Objects of low temperature are cold, while various degrees of higher temperatures are referred to as warm or hot...

, sea surface temperature, wind
Wind is the flow of gases on a large scale. On Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. In outer space, solar wind is the movement of gases or charged particles from the sun through space, while planetary wind is the outgassing of light chemical elements from a planet's atmosphere into space...

, pressure
Pressure is the force per unit area applied in a direction perpendicular to the surface of an object. Gauge pressure is the pressure relative to the local atmospheric or ambient pressure.- Definition :...

, humidity
Humidity is a term for the amount of water vapor in the air, and can refer to any one of several measurements of humidity. Formally, humid air is not "moist air" but a mixture of water vapor and other constituents of air, and humidity is defined in terms of the water content of this mixture,...

, and cloudiness
A cloud is a visible mass of liquid droplets or frozen crystals made of water and/or various chemicals suspended in the atmosphere above the surface of a planetary body. They are also known as aerosols. Clouds in Earth's atmosphere are studied in the cloud physics branch of meteorology...

. Data in the time frame from 1662 through the early 1800's in quite sparse, as ship voyages covered small areas of the globe that far back into the past.

Related research

Based upon data from ICOADS, wind reports from moored weather buoys were determined to have smaller error than those from ships. The use of winds and pressures from ocean observations within ICOADS has led to a refinement of the Atlantic hurricane database
The North Atlantic hurricane database, or HURDAT, is the database for all tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, since 1851.-History:...

 as part of the Atlantic hurricane reanalysis. Sea surface temperature data from ICOADS have been used to detect 20th century trends within that field. Global atmospheric reanalyses of past years have utilized the data within ICOADS.