The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), USA has provided scientific data management support for the U.S. Department of Energy and international climate change science since 1982. Over this period, climate change science has expanded from research focusing on basic understanding of geochemical cycles, particularly the carbon cycle, to integrated research addressing climate change impacts, vulnerability, adaptation, and mitigation. Interests in climate change data and information worldwide have grown remarkably and, as a result, so have demands and expectations for CDIAC’s data systems. To meet the growing demands, CDIAC’s strategy has been to design flexible data systems using proven technologies blended with new, evolving technologies and standards. CDIAC development teams are multidisciplinary and include computer science and information technology expertise, but also scientific expertise necessary to address data quality and documentation issues and to identify data products and system capabilities needed by climate change scientists. CDIAC has learned there is rarely a single commercial tool or product readily available to satisfy long-term scientific data system requirements (i.e., one size does not fit all and the breadth and diversity of environmental data are often too complex for easy use with commercial products) and typically deploys a variety of tools and data products in an effort to provide credible data freely to users worldwide. Like many scientific data management applications, CDIAC’s data systems are highly customized to satisfy specific scientific usage requirements (e.g., developing data products specific for model use) but are also designed to be flexible and interoperable to take advantage of new software engineering techniques, standards (e.g., metadata standards) and tools and to support future Earth system data efforts (e.g., ocean acidification).
CDIAC has provided data management support for numerous long-term measurement projects crucial to climate change science. One current example is the AmeriFlux measurement network. AmeriFlux provides continuous measurements from forests, grasslands, wetlands, and croplands in North, Central, and South America and offers important insight about carbon cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. We share our approaches in satisfying the challenges of delivering AmeriFlux data worldwide to benefit others with similar challenges handling climate change data, further heighten awareness and use of an outstanding ecological data resource, and highlight expanded software engineering applications being used for climate change measurement data.