NOAA Logo National Centers for Environmental Information

NOAA Satellite and Information Service

NCEI is transitioning to a new website and paths to data resources will be changing. Please contact with any questions of issues. See the new website at

You are here: HomeWorld Data Service for Oceanography › Catalogue Numbering System

Catalogue Numbering System

The catalogue numbering system uses groups of numbers and letters to designate identifying references for purposes of data archiving and retrieval. A catalogue number consists of numerals for the assigned: series, country, institution, ship and cruise.

Series — The catalogue numbering system is divided into basic groups called series. At present, these consist of the 100 series for data from ships and other mobile platforms and the 200 series for data from shore and fixed stations in the following categories:

  1. Coastal and island stations.
  2. Near shore manned stations; i.e., lightvessels and platforms.
  3. Offshore manned stations; i.e., ocean weather ships.
  4. Unmanned stations; i.e., automatic buoys.
  5. Stations on shipping routes.
  6. Offshore reference stations visited regularly.
  7. Cables in use for oceanographic observations.
  8. Repetitive drifting observations; i.e., ice islands, drifting buoys.

Country — All countries and institutions from which this Center has received data during this period are identified by discrete numbers. The series and two-digit country number comprise the first three digits of the catalogue number.

Example: For country number 01, Argentina, data from ships and mobile platforms are catalogued as 101, and data from shore and fixed stations as 201.

NOTE: The designations of countries used in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of this Center concerning the delineation of the territorial boundaries, the political subdivisions, or the legal status of any country or territory.

Institution — An institution which contributed data, either directly or through its designated national agency or national, regional or specialized oceanographic data center, is assigned a decimal number following the series/country number.

Example: The number 101.01 is assigned to data taken by ships and mobile platforms and received from the Argentine Servicio de Hidrografia Naval, and the number 201.01 is assigned to data taken at shore and fixed stations and received from the same institution.

Ship — Each ship, or in some instances a group of ships operating together, is assigned a letter following the series/country/institution number. The letter is followed by a number assigned to the particular cruise as the data are received.

Example: The first cruise data received from the Argentine Servicio de Hidrografia Naval are from the ship CAPITAN CANEPA, which is assigned the letter A, followed by the number 01, thus A-01; the second cruise is A-02, the third A-03, etc. Thus, the catalogue numbers 101.01 A-01, A-02, A-03, etc.

NOTE: The term “cruise” is used in this catalogue to define, whenever possible, the beginning and ending dates of a series of data collected by a ship, usually identified by the contributing institution with a cruise name and/or number. Sometimes it is necessary to group several series of data from one or more ships together under one catalogue number.

A similar system is used in the 200-series for ships but is not applied to lightvessels and fixed shore stations; for the latter the ship/cruise identifier is omitted. For these categories, the series/country/institution numbers are given, but the lightvessel’s or station’s name must be added instead of the ship/cruise number to complete the catalogue identification.