IODE logoThe International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) of the IOC was established in 1961 with an aim to “enhance marine research, exploitation and development, by facilitating the exchange of oceanographic data and information between participating Member States, and by meeting the needs of users for data and information products.” This is underpinned by a number of objectives, including supporting the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), developing best practice for management of data and narrowing the ‘digital divide’ between developing and developed countries.

The UK has been a very active participant in IODE, particularly via the Marine Enivornmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN), the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) and the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), contributing both to its implementation and strategic development. The UK has also Chaired the IODE, through Dr Nicholas Flemming (1990, 1992) and Dr Lesley Rickards (2005, 2007).

The governance of the IOC IODE is set out as:

  • IOC Committee on IODE: UK representative at the 26th IOC Committee on IODE Session was Dr Lesley Rickards (BODC at NOC)
  • IODE Management Group: UK representative is Simon Good (Met Office)
  • IODE Network for the coordination of data and information management at the national level (described below)
  • IODE Steering Groups for various projects (Table below)

IODE Network Structure

The IODE structure has two levels. The first is the coordination of data and information management (e.g. data centres). The second is the programme structural elements.


1. IODE Data & Information Centres

Global Data Assembly Centres (GDACs)

GDACs will be formed to work alongside the Marine Climate Data System (MCDS) and will focus on receiving and assembling both marine meteorological data and oceanographic data, ensuring the data are consistent and compliant to meeting international standards under the IOC and WMO.

UK involvementNo GDACs currently exist according to the 25th IODE Session in 2019 with recent updates from the 26th IODE Session in 2021 reporting uncertainty of GDACs moving forward

National Oceanographic Data Centres (NODC)

The mission of an NODC is to provide access and stewardship for the national resource of oceanographic data. This effort requires the gathering, quality control, processing, summarization, dissemination, and preservation of data generated by national and international agencies.

UK involvement: The British Oceanographic Data Centre is one of only nine IODE-accredited NODCs, out of 58 NODCs. Furthermore, the accrediation procedure and criteria was built on the MEDIN accrediation critera.

The UK contact for data management is Ian Moores, Head of BODC.

The UK contact for information management is Head of Library and Information Services at the National Oceanographic Library, TBC.

Associate Data Unit (ADU)

The ADU brings in wider ocean research and observation communities as key stakeholders of the IODE network. It allows these sectors to share, provide access to and preserve ocean research data.

UK involvement: There are 34 ADUs, only one (in Malaysia) is accredited. The UK has four ADUs: SCAR – Anton Van de Putte, DASSH (at the MBA) – Dan Lear, Cefas – Laura Hanley and MEDIN - Clare Postlethwaite. DASSH and Cefas are both accredited MEDIN Data Archive Centres (DAC).

World Data System (WDS)

The WDS aims to bring together previously stand-alone World Data Centres to form a global, interoperable distributed data system. IODE became a network member of the WDS in 2013. Through this, all NODCs are linked to the WDS

UK involvement: Only the World Data Centre – Oceanography exists under the WDS and this is based in the USA.

Associate Information Unit (AIU)

The AIU forms a network of the marine library community, whereby AIUs must carry out marine information management functions or provide marine information services

UK involvement: Only five currently exist, the UK has not formed one.


2. IODE Programmes

IODE Programmes and the UK contributions
ProgrammesDescriptionUK ContributionPoint of ContactOrganisation
Global Oceanographic Data Archaeology and Rescue Project (GODAR)The goal of GODAR is to increase the volume of historical oceanographic data available to climate change and other researchers by locating datasets not yet in digital form, and then digitizing the data and submitting them to NODCs and including them in the World Ocean Database.This project covers all forms of oceanographic data. The UK is involved with sea level data archaeology through the BODC and Met Office.Elizabeth BradshawBODC at NOC
Global Ocean Surface Underway Data Project (GOSUD)

The main objectives of GOSUD are to provide near real time sea surface salinity and sea surface temperature data for operational needs, and to provide delayed mode sea surface salinity for research purposes and for satellite data validation.

GOSUD aim to work closely with FerryBox and GO-SHIP (see GOOS page).

Global Temperature and Salinity Profile Programme (GTSPP)GTSPP is a cooperative international project seeking to develop and maintain a global ocean temperature-salinity resource with data that are both up-to-date and of the highest quality.

The Met Office were invited to the GTSPP meeting in 2019 to provide feedback on GTSPP data that was used for the Hadley Centre EN4 dataset.

The Met Office is looking to become a GTSPP Product Centre.

Rachel KillickMet Office
International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN)The strategic aim of the IODE ICAN project is to share experiences and to find common solutions to coastal web atlases (CWAs) development while ensuring maximum relevance and added value for the end users.The UK has historically had individuals take part in the project, but as it stands there are no known individuals who are currently part of this steering group or project.N/AN/A
International Quality Controlled Ocean Database (IQuOD)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.One co-Chair of the IQuOD is a UK representative, with two other UK representatives on the steering team. Matthew PalmerMet Office
Inter-sessional Working Group to propose a Strategy on Ocean Data and Information Stewardship for the UN Ocean Decade (IWG-SODIS)The IWG-SODIS was created at the IOC's 30th Assembly and was assigned to be managed by the IODE. The vision of the group is to help develop a sustainable world informed by high-quality, open access digital ocean data, services and information. They first met in June 2020.The UK has two representatives on this working group.Lauren WeatherdonUNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre
Ocean Best Practices System (OBPS)

OBPS was formally approved in 2019 and supersedes the OceanDataPractices repository project.

OBPS provides publication, discovery and access to relevant and tested methods, from observation to application, as well as a foundation for increasing capacity. The Ocean Best Practice System supports the entire ocean community in sharing methods, developing best practices and capacity development in their use.

Scientists from the UK have provided hundreds of ‘best practice’ documents, which can be found using the OBPS search engine.


Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS)

The OBIS vision is to be the most comprehensive gateway to the world’s ocean biodiversity and biogeographic data and information required to address pressing coastal and world ocean concerns.


The UK OBIS node is hosted at the MBA with over 20 data providers and five and half million occurrence records submitted.

The MBA sits on the Steering Group of OBIS, the OBIS vocabulary infrastructure project team and the data quality assessment and enhancement project team.

Dan LearDASSH at the MBA
Ocean Data and Information System (ODIS)The ODIS concept was presented at the 24th IODE Session after a review of the IOC operations in 2016. At the 25th IODE Session, the purpose of the ODIS was stated to support the registration of a variety of sources, ranging from data and information, to systems such as catalogues/portals/webs sites, to manuals/guidance/standards”. It is currently in the early stages of development but has already a pilot catalogue site which houses descriptive information of data and access, rather than the data itself. The hope is that the catalogue will bring together information from all National Oceanographic Data Centres (NODCs).The UK sits on the Steering Group for ODIS. Lesley RickardsBODC at NOC
Ocean Data Portal (ODP)The ODP aims to facilitate seamless access to marine data/services from across the IODE NODCs, and to promote the exchange and dissemination of marine data and services. ODP are also actively supporting the formation of ODIS.
The Ocean Data Portal is unavailable. It is not known if this is a temporary situation at present.
UK organisations (British Geological Survey, BODC, Cefas, JNCC, MBA, NOC, OceanWise, University of Sheffield, University of Sussex) have been/are involved with EMODnet and SeaDataNet through submission of their data. Data from these feed into the ODP.Ian MooresBODC at NOC
OceanDocsThe aim of OceanDocs is to collect, preserve and facilitate discovery and access to all research output from members of the ocean research and observation communityUK contributes to documentation on the website.N/AN/A
OceanExpertThis project created and maintains a global directory of marine and freshwater professionals, their institutions, involvement with IOC groups and publications.There are hundreds of UK individuals on the OceanExpert website along with a dozen institutes.N/AN/A
Ocean InfoHub (OIH)The OIH project aims to improve access to global oceans information, data and knowledge products for management and sustainable development. New initiative to consolidate IOC-associated online resources (e.g. OceanExpert, OceanDocs, OBPS, OBIS, WOD, ODP, ODIS Catalogue).The UK sits on the Ocean InfoHub Steering Group. Sophie SeeyavePartnerships for Observations of the Global Ocean (POGO)
OceanKnowledge Platform Pilot


OpenScienceDirectoryThis project was offered by a Member State and company to provide a global search tool for all open access and special programs journal titles
The OpenScienceDirectory is unavailable. It is not known if this is a temporary situation at present.
OceanTeacher Global Academy (OTGA)The OGTA has trained nearly 2000 students from 120 countries since 2005.  This web-based training platform supports classroom training, blended training (combining classroom and distance learning), and online learning and courses include: Scientific Knowledge and Research, Sustainable Use of Marine Resources, Marine Spatial Planning, Marine and Coastal Ecosystems, Disaster Risk Reduction, International Marine Law, Ocean Acidification, Marine Pollution. The courses contribute to the implementation of the IOC Capacity Development Strategy, enabling equitable participation of all IOC Member States and IOC Programmes.

UK scientists present on some of the Academy courses. The UK’s Val Byfield (NOC) was involved in the UNESCO Bilko project which has distributed software and hands-on training material in coastal and marine remote sensing to over 1500 organisations and over 5000 individual users in 168 countries around the world.

MEDIN in collaboration with OceanWise created a free training course in 2021 for those responsible for collecting or managing marine data. 

Pacific Islands Marine bioinvasions Alert Network (PacMAN)PacMAN is a three year project (2020 – 2022) looking to develop a national invasive species monitoring system for Pacific Small Islands Developing States.The IMO will be a key stakeholder and therefore will sit on the advisory board. The role of the IMO will be to give advice on the monitoring plan design and decision-making support tool, and to help raise awareness of the outcomes and local and regional levels.John AlonsoInternational Maritime Organisation (IMO)
Quality Management Framework (QMF)The objective of the QMF is to provide strategy, guidance and capacity development activities in order for NODCs to become accredited, once they reach a minimum agreed level against a specified criteriaThe UK sits on the Steering Group for the QMF.Lesley RickardsBODC at NOC
World Ocean Database (WOD)

The WOD represents the world’s largest collection of vertical profile data of ocean characteristics available internationally without restriction.

WOD is hosted by the WDC Oceanography.

Data is submitted to the WOD via the UK Hydrographic Office and the BODC.Ian MooresBODC at NOC