Since 2003 DLR-DFD has hosted and operated the World Data Center for Remote Sensing of the Atmosphere under the non-governmental auspices of the International Council of Science (ICSU). In line with ICSU’s regulations, WDC-RSAT’s mission is to help supporting both basic and applied scientific research through providing free, simplified, standardized and sustainable access to atmosphere related satellite based data, information products and services for science, administrative bodies, and industries. Further guide lines are to support long-term preservation of data and assurance of the data quality (“no data holdings without known quality of the data”).
Additionally, in 2009 WDC-RSAT received the mandate from the World Meteorological Organization, WMO, to become also a WMO-World Data Center within WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch Program, GAW. This mandate is documented within a MoU between WMO and DLR, seconded by the German Weather Service, DWD. Since then, WDC-RSAT is continuously being implemented as part of the WMO-GAW Strategic Plan 2008-2015, especially in the context of IGACO. Being assigned a WMO-Data Center, WDC-RSAT actively contributes to the WMO Expert Team on World Data Centers (ET-WDC), which aims at developing a ‘GAW Metadata Profile’ that serves the interoperability of the GAW WDCs, strives to satisfy the requirements of WIS, and is extensible to satisfy future WIGOS requirements. WDC-RSAT is also represented in WMO-GAW scientific expert groups on aerosol and on ozone helping to assure a closer connection between the satellite and non-satellite research communities.
In 2010 WDC-RSAT has been included into the architecture of the new WMO Information System, WIS, as it has been enrolled as a DCPC within WIS and successfully completed the designation procedure by enhancing existing interfaces and services. The task of a DCPC is to fulfill, within specific WMO Programs, an international responsibility for the generation and provision for international distribution of data and/or products. As a DCPC, WDC-RSAT is providing data intended for global and regional exchange to the designated GISCs (in this case DWD) in its WMO region. WDC-RSAT’s metadata catalogue is routinely being synchronized with the GISC in Offenbach. GICS, in turn, are synchronising its product catalogue with other GISCs worldwide. Thus, WDC-RSAT’s data sets can be discovered and retrieved from anywhere within the WIS. On the other hand, through WDC-RSAT, data sets anywhere within WIS can be accessed.
Recognizing that proper data citing is mandatory in order to pushing progress into opening data usage, in 2011 WDC-RSAT received the mandate from the Technische Informationsbibliothek Hannover, TIB, to act as a Data Publication Agent. Data sets can be registered through WDC-RSAT by assigning to them a DOI name (Digital Object Identifier). Through the allocation of DOI names the data thus become citable, permanently available and searchable. A DOI name is permanently linked to the data set and cannot be changed. This is mandatory in order to further following the overall goal of enabling globally standardised access to research data and to improve the quality of scientific research: the underlying data set used for scientific studies is permanently documented and accessible.
Following the recommendations of CEOS, WDC-RSAT established in cooperation with NASA a portal for satellite-based atmospheric composition data (ACP) which ultimately will be integrated in the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). This cooperation is covered by a LoA between DLR and NASA. A similar cooperation is currently being implemented with the French data centers ICARE and ETHER under the auspices of DLR, CNES, and CNRS.
WDC-RSAT is closely connected to research activities. In fact, WDC-RSAT often acts as a partner within research projects. This way, WDC-RSAT is closely interconnected to the science community and thus gets first hand information on user’s needs.
It should be mentioned that WDC-RSAT is involved in the Copernicus project MACC and is currently being prepared to take over tasks within the future Copernicus Atmospheric Service as well as in ESA’s climate change initiative program. Furthermore, WDC-RSAT is responsible for the whole data management within the EU-ARISE project which aims at establishing a contribution to a future sustainable European Atmospheric Research infrastructure.
The very close and fruitful relation of WDC-RSAT to the science community is demonstrated by the fact that WDC-RSAT hosts and manages the data and information platform of the international Network for the Detection of Mesospheric Change, NDMC. NDMC is a network of about 50 ground-based measurement stations with associated space components, predominantly through NASA (TIMED-SABER).
Finally, it should be noted that WDC-RSAT is currently being involved in the Virtual Alpine Observatory Program, VAO. VAO is a cooperation of sustainable and larger observatories in the alpine region and with associated prominent observatories elsewhere (e.g. ALOMAR, Norway, or Abastumani, Georgia). About 50 partner organizations from more than 10 countries are involved in this initiative. WDC-RSAT is part of the information technology component of the program which aims at implementing innovative concepts for “data-on-demand”, “computing-on-demand”, and “operating-on-demand”.