You can see a synthesis spreadsheet HERE.

[The BODC page is fully loaded (!), but the explanatory date are concatenated into a single column that is not easy to read. There is no BUFR page, for structural reasons, i.e. it's not possible to reduce it to a single table. The file is 5 MB and loads slowly.]

Parameters - Etienne Charpentier's PPT presentation

No. of Parameter Codes 18,880 772 808 Not counted
  • 8-character codes, unique to each and every parameter ever encountered
  • Plus an abbreviated term that is human-readable in most cases, after some orientation
  • Full, well-formed names of all parameters, but no codes
  • Each record has a unique code number from 1 to 9993
  • The units are specified as part of the parameter
  • The official list of codes and names is called the Key File
  • A BUFR file consists of up to about 40 elements, many of which contain "metadata" type information
  • Data elements, parallel to the BODC and NetCDF concepts, occur mainly in elements 10, 11, 12, 15, 19, 22 and possibly 23
  • Each parameter has a unique numerical code called the Descriptor and an acronym-style Mnemonic, as well as a full name Description.
Content Governance Submitting New Parameter Records for inclusion in the BODC Parameter Dictionary Standard Name Committee Key File Coordinator Well-known, long established collaborative process within WMO's working groups.

Primary Standards for Consideration

  1. BODC - From (slow; 5MB)
  2. NetCDF
    1. CF Convention NetCDF Standard Names - From
      1. NetCDF Parameter Ontology - From - Another view of the above table; scroll down past the units section to see the parameters list.
    2. NOAA PMEL EPIC Codes to Operational NetCDF Units - From
      1. Mapping NetCDF Codes to ECMWF GRIB Codes - From
      2. Mapping NetCDF Codes to NCEP GRIB Codes - From
      3. Mapping NetCDF Codes to PCMDI Codes - From
  3. BUFR - WMO format for observational data; binary
    1. General information sheet
    2. Parameter Tables (BUFR Table B, March 2007)
      1. Code Tables and Flag Tables Associated with BUFR Table B
      2. Master Table 10 BUFR Table B - Classification of Elements

      3. Common Code Tables to Binary and Alphanumeric Codes

    3. NCEP Documentation - Although this covers the local (NCEP) implementation of BUFR, it is the single easiest to grasp structural analysis of the BUFR Table B.

Additional Resources

  1. CREX - ASCII analog to BUFR
    1. General information sheet
    2. Parameter Tables
  2. GRIB - WMO formats for gridded analyses and model output; binary
    1. Introduction to GRIB Edition 1 and GRIB Edition 2
    2. GRIB1
      1. WMO Manual on Codes, Volume 1.2, Part B (Binary Codes), Part C (Common Features to Binary and Alphanumeric Codes)
      2. US NOAA Office Note 388, GRIB (Edition 1)
    3. GRIB2
      1. Guide to the WMO Table Driven Code Form Used for the Representation and Exchange of Regularly spaced Data in
        Binary Form
        (June 2006)
      2. FM 92 GRIB (Format description, including tables) for Edition 2, dated July 11, 2007)
      3. Additions to GRIB Edition 2 Pre-Operational Approved by CBS for Full Implementation on 7 November 2007
    4. BODC Parameter Discovery Vocabulary - In a transitional phase from BODC content governance to SeaDataNet governance. SeaDataNet use this in records such as EDMED, CSR, EDIOS and CDI.


  1. MMI's list of Parameter Discovery Vocabularies - From Vocabularies containing lists of terms (sometimes called keywords) that are used to standardise the process of finding data. Discovery vocabularies cover a wide metadata spectrum including descriptions of parameters, platforms, instruments, projects, geographic areas, etc.
  2. MMS's list of Parameter Usage Vocabularies - From References to vocabularies designed to tag individual data values with information about what was measured (including the sphere, e.g. water column or atmophere, in which the measurement was made)and how it was measured. These vocabularies usually consist of a numeric or alphanumeric key (sometimes termed a parameter code)that is used to tag the data (e.g. as a spreadsheet column label) plus a lookup resource presenting the semantics for the tag.

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