Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Keywords
The Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Keywords are a hierarchical set of controlled Earth Science vocabularies that help ensure Earth science data and services are described in a consistent and comprehensive manner and allow for the precise searching of collection-level metadata and subsequent retrieval of data and services. Initiated over twenty years ago, the GCMD Keywords are periodically analyzed for relevancy and will continue to be refined and expanded in response to user needs. The categories of GCMD Keywords are as follows.
- Earth Science
- Earth Science Services
- Data Centers
- Horizontal Data Resolution
- Vertical Data Resolution
- Temporal Data Resolution
- URL Content Types
- Chronostratigraphic Units
The information provided on this page seeks to define how the GCMD Keywords are structured, used and accessed. It also provides information on how users can participate in the further development of the keywords.
The GCMD Keyword Community Forum provides keyword users and metadata providers with an area for discussion of topics related to the GCMD Keywords. Participants are invited to use this forum to ask questions, submit keyword requests, discuss trade-offs, and track the status of keyword requests.
More Information About the Keywords
GCMD Keyword Structure
The GCMD Keywords are organized using a multi-level hierarchical structure. This hierarchical structure provides a framework by which concepts can be classified and related. The Earth Science and Science Services keyword sets use the following hierarchical structure:
Category > Topic > Term > Variable > Detailed Variable
Categories and Topics represent disciplines and high level concepts. Terms and Variables define subject areas and parameters. Detailed Variables are uncontrolled values that can be added by users to more specifically describe data.
All other keyword sets use hierarchies designed for a specific concept. For example, "Instruments" uses Short Name > Long Name. Short name and long name define the name of the instrument used to acquire the data.
Earth Science Keywords Structure
The Earth Science Keywords have a six-level keyword structure with the option for a seventh uncontrolled field. Category and Topic levels define how the keywords are organized and the associated Earth science discipline within the hierarchy. The Term and Variables levels define the subject area, measured variables/parameters, and the hierarchical-type relationship for the subject area.
|Variable Level 1||Subtropical Cyclones|
|Variable Level 2||Subtropical Depression|
|Variable Level 3||Subtropical Depression Track|
|Detailed Variable||(Uncontrolled Keyword)|
Earth Science Services Keywords Structure
The Earth Science Services Keywords have a four-level keyword structure with the option for a fifth uncontrolled field. Category and Topic levels define how the controlled keywords are organized and the associated Earth Science Services discipline associated with the keyword in the hierarchy. The Term and Variable levels define the subject area, the type of software/service being described, and the hierarchical-type relationship for the subject area.
|Service Category||Earth Science Services|
|Service Topic||Data Analysis and Visualization|
|Service Term||Geographic Information Systems|
|Service Variable||Web-Based Geographic Information Systems|
|Detailed Variable||(Uncontrolled Keyword)|
Data Center Keywords Structure
The Data Center Keywords have a short name and long name that define the data center, organization, or institution responsible for distributing the data.
|Short Name||LP DAAC|
|Long Name||Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center|
Project Keyword Structure
The Project Keywords have a short name and long name that define the name of the scientific program, field campaign, or project from which the data were collected.
|Long Name||Earth Science Information Partner|
Instrument/Sensors Keyword Structure
The Instrument/Sensor Keywords have a short name and long name that define the name of the instrument used to acquire the data.
|Long Name||Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer|
Platform/Sources Keyword Structure
The Platform/Source Keywords have a short name and long name that define the name of the platform used to acquire the data.
|Long Name||Earth Observing System, Aqua|
Locations Keyword Structure
The Location Keywords have a five-level keyword structure with the option for a sixth uncontrolled field and define the name of a place on Earth, a location within Earth, a vertical location, or a location outside of the Earth.
|Location Type||North America|
|Location Subregion 1||United States of America|
|Location Subregion 2||Maryland|
|Location Subregion 3||Baltimore|
|Detailed Location||(Uncontrolled Keyword)|
Horizontal Data Resolution Keyword Structure
The Horizontal Data Resolution Keywords have a range structure and define the horizontal resolution of the data.
|Resolution Range||1 km - < 10 km|
Vertical Data Resolution Keyword Structure
The Vertical Data Resolution Keywords have a range structure and define the vertical resolution of the data.
|Resolution Range||1 km - < 10 km|
Temporal Data Resolution Keyword Structure
The Temporal Data Resolution Keywords have a range structure and define the vertical resolution of the data.
|Resolution Range||1 minute - < 1 hour|
URL Content Types Keyword Structure
The URL Content Type Keywords have a type-subtype structure and define the type of URL being referenced.
Chronostratigraphic Units Types Keyword Structure
The Chronostratigraphic Keywords have a five-level keyword structure and define the geologic time of the data.
Community Use of GCMD Keywords
NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) as well as numerous other U.S. and international agencies, research universities, and scientific institutions use GCMD Keywords as an authoritative vocabulary, taxonomy, or thesaurus to describe Earth science data, services, and visualizations. Many of these organizations also use GCMD Keywords to create ontologies for the Semantic Web, and to search and access Earth science data within online metadata catalogues. A representative list of organizations using GCMD Keywords is shown below.
- Australian Institute of Management
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
- Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS)
- Community Inventory of EarthCube Resources for Geosciences Interoperability (CINERGI)
- CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Australia
- Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)
- French Polar Institute
- GeoConnections Discovery Portal Canada
- GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
- Global Observing Systems Information Center (GOSIC)
- Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics Project (GLOBEC)
- Gulf of Maine Council (GOMC)
- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
- Marine Explorer
- Marine Scotland Science
- Maryland Department of Natural Resources
- Metadata Management Tool for NASA's Common Metadata Repository (CMR)
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
- National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), Italy
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)
- Navy Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC), Australia
- NASA EOSDIS Data Centers
- NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
- Norwegian Polar Institute
- Norwegian Polar Data Center
- Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Ronin Institute
- Standing Committee on Antarctic Data Management (SCADM)
- Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute
- Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network, Australia
- University of Manitoba
- University of Tasmania, Australia
- University of Tennessee, Knoxville
- U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
- Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI)
- World Data Center for Soils
GCMD Keyword Governance and Community Guide Document
The Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Keyword Governance and Community Guide Document, Version 1.0, is intended to provide the community with a comprehensive resource that describes the governance structures and process for reviewing proposed changes to the GCMD Keywords. The document includes an overview of the structure of the keywords, requirements and recommendations to consider when requesting keyword changes, and instructions for submitting change requests. The process described in this document will be the basis of all future GCMD Keyword reviews. The community is invited to provide feedback.
Contact GCMD User Support for questions, comments, or technical issues regarding the GCMD Keywords.
Subscribe to the GCMD/IDN Interoperability Email List to receive keyword release announcements.
The GCMD Keywords should be cited as:
Global Change Master Directory (GCMD). 2017. GCMD Keywords, Version 8.5. Greenbelt, MD: Global Change Data Center, Science and Exploration Directorate, Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). URL (GCMD Keyword Forum Page): https://earthdata.nasa.gov/gcmd-forum
Last Updated: Nov 14, 2017 at 9:48 AM EST