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Title GCE Data Toolbox for MATLAB a software framework for automating environmental data processing, quality control and documentation
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Environmental scientists are under increasing pressure from funding agencies and journal publishers to release quality-controlled data in a timely manner, as well as to produce comprehensive metadata for submitting data to long-term archives (e.g. DataONE, Dryad and BCO-DMO). At the same time, the volume of digital data that researchers collect and manage is increasing rapidly due to advances in high frequency electronic data collection from flux towers, instrumented moorings and sensor networks. However, few pre-built software tools are available to meet these data management needs, and those tools that do exist typically focus on part of the data management lifecycle or one class of data.The GCE Data Toolbox has proven to be both a generalized and effective software solution for environmental data management in the Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTER). This open source MATLAB software library, developed by the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER program, integrates metadata capture, creation and management with data processing, quality control and analysis to support the entire data lifecycle. Raw data can be imported directly from common data logger formats (e.g. SeaBird, Campbell Scientific, YSI, Hobo), as well as delimited text files, MATLAB files and relational database queries. Basic metadata are derived from the data source itself (e.g. parsed from file headers) and by value inspection, and then augmented using editable metadata templates containing boilerplate documentation, attribute descriptors, code definitions and quality control rules. Data and metadata content, quality control rules and qualifier flags are then managed together in a robust data structure that supports database functionality and ensures data validity throughout processing. A growing suite of metadata-aware editing, quality control, analysis and synthesis tools are provided with the software to support managing data using graphical forms and command-line functions, as well as developing automated workflows for unattended processing. Finalized data and structured metadata can be exported in a wide variety of text and MATLAB formats or uploaded to a relational database for long-term archiving and distribution.The GCE Data Toolbox can be used as a complete, light-weight solution for environmental data and metadata management, but it can also be used in conjunction with other cyber infrastructure to provide a more comprehensive solution. For example, newly acquired data can be retrieved from a Data Turbine or Campbell LoggerNet Database server for quality control and processing, then transformed to CUAHSI Observations Data Model format and uploaded to a HydroServer for distribution through the CUAHSI Hydrologic Information System. The GCE Data Toolbox can also be leveraged in analytical workflows developed using Kepler or other systems that support MATLAB integration or tool chaining. This software can therefore be leveraged in many ways to help researchers manage, analyze and distribute the data they collect.

Contributors Wade M. Sheldon, John F. Chamblee and Richard Cary

Sheldon, W.M. Jr., Chamblee, J.F. and Cary, R. 2013. Poster: GCE Data Toolbox for MATLAB - a software framework for automating environmental data processing, quality control and documentation. ED53B: Managing Ecological Data for Effective Use and Reuse. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2013, 13-Dec-2013, San Francisco, California.

Key Words automation, data management, database, informatics, logger, LTER-IMC, MATLAB, provenance, standardization
File Date 2013
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants OCE-9982133, OCE-0620959, OCE-1237140 and OCE-1832178. 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.