Data Sharing Toolkit

BOX VI – Case Studies

Under construction – to be developed starting with DCO-ODS associated programmes Geotraces, Marine Regions, WOD, and other examples – Crown Estate, …

The International GEOTRACES Program

GEOTRACES ( is an international program on marine biogeochemistry which mission is to identify processes and quantify fluxes that control the distributions of trace elements and isotopes (TEIs) in the ocean, and to establish the sensitivity of these distributions to changing environmental conditions. While often present at extremely low concentrations in seawater, trace elements and their isotopes act as essential micronutrients for microorganisms (e.g., manganese, iron, cobalt, nickel, copper, zinc, cadmium), or as toxins (e.g., copper, mercury), or as tracers of oceanographic processes (rare earth elements, neodymium isotopes, radium isotopes, uranium/thorium/protactinium isotopes). The GEOTRACES program was envisioned to use state-of-the-art sampling and analytical methods to study the distributions of TEIs over the global ocean from the surface to the seafloor. Thus far, over 35 countries have contributed their data from 148 research cruises, yielding over 2200 scientific publications and three freely-available Intermediate Data Products (IDPs). This successful effort is being followed up by research activities focused on specific processes or regions where TEI behavior suggests the need for more detailed study.

The GEOTRACES Data Products

Compilation of data from scientists from 35 nations into a single database where high quality-controlled data are presented systematically using uniform parameter names.

dataset is freely available. The scientists involved in GEOTRACES are eager to foster collaborations with other ocean scientific communities and professionals.

The most recent GEOTRACES Intermediate Data Product (IDP2021[1]) represents a compilation of data from scientists from 35 nations into a single database, where data are presented systematically using uniform parameter names. Data generated by different labs in different nations have all been screened for accuracy and oceanographic consistency. The program practices active data management in an effort to ensure datasets that are FAIR-compliant. The program offers tools for data visualization, as well as data selection, extraction and download from the GEOTRACES IDP for all ocean scientists, in a way that is simple and meets FAIR data objectives (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable).

International coordination and governance

The GEOTRACES program has fostered unprecedented international collaboration and coordination and achieved objectives that were simply not attainable by a single lab or a single nation. This is coordinated by the GEOTRACES International Project Office in Toulouse, France
(Contact: Elena Masferrer,

The GEOTRACES program is one of the international programs administered by the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR). The administration is organized to ensure “good governance” and includes several very active subcommittees. Because trace elements and their isotopes (TEIs) are present in seawater at extremely low concentrations (orders of magnitude of 10-7 to 10-15 mol/kg) data quality and internal consistency are controlled by following stringent intercalibration protocols, under the supervision of the Standards and Intercalibration (S&I) committee. Since more than 3000 parameters have been identified, the Parameter Definition Committee developed a consistent parameter naming scheme. Once validated and ready for inclusion in an Intermediate Data Product, the data are compiled and processed by the GEOTRACES Data Assembly Centre (GDAC, British Oceanographic Data Centre, BODC, UK, contact: Donna Cockwell, / under the supervision of the Data Management Committee (DMC).

Ensure internal consistency of data generated by different labs in different nations

In order to produce a useful global dataset for TEIs it is essential to ensure the accuracy and consistency of data generated by different labs in different nations. A coherent global study with contributions from investigators worldwide requires very high standards of intercalibration. Reference seawater samples are provided to analysts for method development and validation. Recommended sampling and sample handling protocols (“The Cookbook”) are online and updated regularly: Intercalibration and data reporting procedures were established; to be followed on all GEOTRACES cruises: The Standards and Intercalibration Committee evaluates all data to ensure reliability and assists investigators with data accuracy and reporting.

Active data management: effort to ensure FAIR-compliant datasets

GEOTRACES uses very active data management to ensure FAIR-compliant datasets and to promote data sharing and collaboration. The Data Management Committee provides oversight and interfaces with data generators. They also recommend data policies, standards and formats for data submission.

We established a User-friendly Portal for data generators to register their datasets and metadata, as well as submit their data intercalibration reports (GEOTRACES Data for Ocean Research, DOoR Portal).

The Data Assembly Centre (BODC, UK) compiles data in an organized and accessible structure. Easy access and visualization of GEOTRACES data is ensured through free online Intermediate Data Products (IDPs) and development of dedicated web services for data download and visualization (webODV).

[1] GEOTRACES Intermediate Data Product Group (2023). The GEOTRACES Intermediate Data Product 2021v2 (IDP2021v2). NERC EDS British Oceanographic Data Centre NOC. doi:10.5285/ff46f034-f47c-05f9-e053-6c86abc0dc7e .

All of these tools, the IDPs, webODV and DOoR, are designed to increase GEOTRACES data FAIRness

GEOTRACES Data for Ocean Research Portal (DOoR)

The GEOTRACES Data for Ocean Research Portal (DOoR) was developed under the leadership of Elena Masferrer (GEOTRACES IPO) and produced by François André (SEDOO-Data Center in Toulouse, France).

The DOoR portal is a dedicated user-friendly on-line portal for:

  • registering datasets
  • generating data submission and intercalibration report templates
  • entering metadata
  • completing intercalibration assessment

The DOoR portal includes management tools (6 interfaces) for scientists and technicians working on the data and metadata, as well as for committee members and staff for reviewing, processing and assembling these data.

Each dataset consists of a parameter and a unique machine-generated barcode (Parameter Name::Barcode (e.g., Fe_D_CONC_BOTTLE::khpwfs). This enables reliable dataset tracking.

The DOoR also uses standardized lists to avoid free-text entries (e.g., cruise and parameter selection, PI identification using ORCID, etc.). It is easy for researchers to select cruises and parameter names from dropdown menus. These aspects of GEOTRACES data management have improved the overall efficiency of creating data products.

Ensuring proper acknowledgement of data generators

The GEOTRACES IPO also maintains a database of scientific publications that is also hosted in the DOoR portal, ensuring that the data generators are always linked to their data and publications, and thus are properly acknowledged. As one example, dissolved iron data (Fe_D_CONC_BOTTLE) from the 2014 GP16 cruise in the eastern tropical Pacific, included in the most recent Intermediate Data Product (IDP2021), is associated with 6 published papers.

Enabling visualization and/or partial download of desired data from the GEOTRACES database by all ocean scientists in a way that is simple and meets FAIR data objectives

GEOTRACES has developed methods for visualization and/or partial downloading of desired data from the GEOTRACES database by all ocean scientists, in a way that is simple and meets FAIR data objectives.

There are 4 ways to access GEOTRACES data to accommodate different users:

  1. Bulk (full packages) download (BODC site, 3 formats: CSV-ASCII, NetCDF and Ocean Data View (ODV) collections): or through the DOI: 10.5285/ff46f034-f47c-05f9-e053-6c86abc0dc7e.
  2. Online sub-setting and extraction* (webODV Extractor, easy to select variables, region, cruises, etc.):
  3. Online analysis and visualization* (webODV Explorer, very user friendly, no need to download software or data):
  4. Electronic Atlas* (eGEOTRACES allows the user to Select a data group and tracer from any cruise or basin to view the tracer distribution in a section and/or 3-D scenes. Links are provided to the original publications associated with the data):
    eGEOTRACES can help in teaching and outreach activities and can also facilitate conveying societally relevant scientific results to interested laymen or decision makers.

*All these tools have been produced by Reiner Schlitzer at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany.

Finally, GEOTRACES encourages everyone to visit the web site to access the data (, and to contact Elena Masferrer at the International Project Office in Toulouse, France ( You are also invited to visit our Facebook and X pages and to subscribe to our eNewsletter and mailing list.

Help us to help you

Tell us what you need, contact us at:

Privacy policy | Cookie policy
Banner image: Merr Watson / Ocean Image Bank – Website by Seascape Belgium

© Ocean Decade Office Decade Coordination Office