ASA Working With NOAA Fisheries to Build New Extension for ArcGIS

ASA has been working with NOAA Fisheries to build a new extension for ArcGIS that allows users to browse THREDDS catalogs and connect directly to OPeNDAP servers to access large amounts of scientific data and ingest the data into ArcGIS desktop 9.2.  This capability will be especially important as NOAA moves towards ecosystem-based approaches to marine resource management.

“One of the challenges faced by our marine scientists is integrating satellite-derived data which is typically stored in scientific formats such as Grib, HDF and NetCDF with commercial GIS tools.  The continuity, global coverage, and high temporal and spatial resolution of satellite data make it an important tool for monitoring and characterizing marine ecosystems, but data have been largely inaccessible for scientists working with GIS tools.  This extension now allows users to connect directly to servers that manage these data and bring it into ArcGIS”, said Cara Wilson from NOAA Fisheries. “The tool opens up a huge amount of data that is available as part of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) and other national and global science initiatives”.

The Environmental Data Connector (EDC) extension uses a Java-based browser to allow users to connect to THREDDS (Thematic Real-time Environmental Distributed Data Services) catalogs. The connector leverages existing components from the Unidata libraries so that users can filter large amounts of data in space and time. The data is then converted to raster or feature classes in ArcGIS and is available for standard GIS analysis and display. The raster and feature data are connected to ASA’s TimeSlider extension so that the data may be animated and analyzed over time. Special customizations were made to the TimeSlider for this project to manage data with non-uniform time steps; the scientific data is highly variable in time with some data, such as in-situ current and wind measurements, being measured every few minutes to climate data that may be measured in terms of decades.

Future developments for consideration include support for the ERDDAP web service, a RESTful service that can access seven different protocols, and the OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium) standards.
Development of the EDC was funded by NOAA’s Satellite Research and Operation (R&O;) project.  For more information on the technical details and availability, please contact Cara Wilson at [email protected].