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Data File Formats

All data sets are provided in multiple file formats to suit various end-user requirements and software capabilities. The list below summarizes the main features of these formats and recommendations for common types of software.

  • Spreadsheet (CSV Text) format (*.csv)
    • comma-delimited text file, containing a minimal file header listing the title, column names, column units, and column variable types (the metadata is provided separately - see below)
    • recommended for users of spreadsheet and database applications
  • Metadata for Spreadsheet (*-meta.txt)
    • text files containing complete metadata only (no data table or statistics)
    • these files provide metadata for the corresponding *.csv file (which only includes basic column descriptions)
    • metadata files can also be used to preview metadata stored in .mat and .rpt files prior to downloading the data (provided the file format descriptors are ignored)
  • Tab-delimited Text Report format (*.rpt)
    • conventional text file containing a complete metadata header followed by a tab-delimited data table and one or more tab-delimited statistical reports
    • recommended for users of word processor and spreadsheet programs
  • GCE Data Toolbox format (*.mat)
  • Standard MATLAB (variables) format (*_vars.mat)
    • conventional MATLAB data files, with data columns as named arrays and formatted metadata in a single character array (i.e. 'metadata')
    • recommended for MATLAB users who have not downloaded the GCE Data Toolbox program

» Naming Convention for Data and Plots

Data files are named according to the station, data set type (if applicable), date range, and file type, e.g.

station: USGS Hudson Creek/Meridian climate & hydrographic station
data set type: daily-interval data
date range: January 2001 through December 2001
file format: conventional MATLAB file (*_vars.mat)

station: Marine Institute National Weather Service climate station
date range: January 2002 through December 2002
file format: text file (comma-separated value)

Preview plots are provided in PNG format (Portable Network Graphics) and named according to the station, data type (if applicable), parameters, and date range, e.g.

station: Marsh Landing climate station
data set type: real-time data (up to 15 minute resolution)
parameters: temperature, precipitation
date range: January 2003

station: USGS Hudson Creek/Meridian climate & hydrographic station
parameters: all hydrographic parameters
date range: December 2002


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants OCE-9982133, OCE-0620959 and OCE-1237140. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.