Polar Data Catalogue Help Manual

The Polar Data Catalogue (PDC) is the data repository for the ArcticNet Network of Centres of Excellence, the Government of Canada Program for the International Polar Year (IPY), the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP), the Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment (BREA), the Nunavut General Monitoring Plan (NGMP), the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), and other related Canadian and international research programs.

Registered users can enter metadata and data that are searchable to the public and other researchers, through the PDC Search Tool. Through an easy-to-use mapping interface, the PDC Search Tool allows easy and quick retrieval of spatial data in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.

The Polar Data Catalogue provides an interface not only to search for data, but also to upload and share data with the general public. To upload data, contributors must be researchers with our partner organizations as well as registered users of our website. The uploaded data will be available for public search after our Approvers conduct Quality Assurance measures to inspect and approve files.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact either:

Gabrielle Alix Julie Friddell
519-888-4567 x37572 519-888-4567 x32689
gabrielle.alix@uwaterloo.ca pdc@uwaterloo.ca

Table of Contents:

Part I: Submit Data and Metadata

This section guides you through the process of adding new data records into the Polar Data Catalogue using the online data entry system. The PDC also provides the interface to manage all of your metadata and data records. The three functional components are “Submit Metadata,” “Submit Data,” and “My Metadata.” In the following section, each part is described in detail.

To submit or edit data and/or metadata, data “owners” must be registered. First-time users should go to the PDC Input page and click the “Register for PDC link” in the navigation menu.


Submit Metadata

To produce a good metadata record, always try to gather as many details as possible about the resource that you want to describe. The most important fields that may not be waived while compiling a standard metadata record are the following:

  • Title
  • Citation
  • Study Site
  • Purpose
  • Abstract
  • Responsible Parties
  • Links to data
  • Status
  • Maintenance and Update Frequency
  • Research Program(s)
  • Research Area
  • Time Period
  • Keywords
  • Data Access Security

After the metadata records are created, the data owners submit the metadata record, and a research group “Approver” will check the quality of the metadata. Once approved, the metadata record is available for search in the PDC Search tool. This process is shown in the flowchart below:


Please refer to the “Descriptions of required information in Metadata Input Form” for the definition of each field.

The Metadata Input Form Templates (available in several formats) are linked below. You can also find them under the “Help” section in the left navigation menu. The template allows you to completely fill in the form offline and then to copy it into the online form. All fields of the online form need to be completed for your record to be saved.

Metadata Input Form - Fillable PDF file / MS Word Document / Text file

The following documents should be reviewed for more detailed guidance as well:

Instructions for Creating Metadata

Completed Metadata Input Form Example

PDC Best Practices – Complete Guide

PDC Best Practices – Summary

All of these documents can be found under the “Help” link at the bottom of the PDC home page as well as in the left navigation menu on the PDC Input page.

After you login, you will see several links options related to data management in the navigation menu.

  1. Log in (or Register, for first time users) to the PDC using your registered email address. [Note for students: Log in (or register, for first time users) using your supervisor’s email address. The email address is the main link to the laboratory’s records and thus will remain the most reliable and constant login name for years to come.]

  2. Read and agree to the terms of the PDC

  3. Create a New Metadata Record

    The “Submit Metadata” link in the navigation menu can be used to create new metadata. You may also choose it from the two options that will be shown once you log in. The fields marked with asterisks are mandatory to fill.

  4. Validate and save metadata record

    To save the metadata, click on the “Validate and Save” button at the bottom of the page.


    If there are errors, you will be returned to the form. Errors will be shown in red to indicate the field(s) that must be modified.


    A screen indicating “Record created successfully” will appear if no errors were present in the metadata.

    You will be given four options to choose from:

    1. To submit the metadata for approval
    2. To submit data to the metadata
    3. To view the record to review/update or create a similar entry
    4. To go to the “My Metadata” page to view all your metadata

    If you do not choose the first option to “Submit” the metadata, the record status will be marked as “SAVED” in the “My Metadata” page, but the record will not be available online until Approval (will be explained in detail below). Don’t forget to go back and “Submit” your metadata once you are satisfied with it, as this is a common mistake made by users.

    These options will be explained in depth in the next section.

  5. Submit your metadata

    If or once you are satisfied with the metadata, choose “Submit Metadata” on the “Record Created Successfully” page or click “Submit” at the bottom of the metadata record page.


    An automatic email will be sent to your email (or the email used to log in) and your research program’s Approver (i.e., Scott Tomlinson for Northern Contaminants Program). This approval process is to further ensure good quality, standardization, and accuracy of metadata found in the PDC.

    The Approver can Approve, Edit (for minor errors), or Send back the record (for major changes). An automatic notification email will be sent to the Submitter once the record is “Sent Back” or “Approved.” Once approved, the record will be available to the public, through the PDC Search Tool. If the metadata is sent back by the Approver, you will receive an email explaining the reason(s) why. The metadata can be edited on the “My Metadata” page and submitted once again for approval.

Submit Data

  1. Select “Submit Data” from the navigation menu. Click on the metadata record for which you want to upload corresponding data, and the following screen will appear. Upload the appropriate data files, and choose “Submit File” to continue.

  2. You can chose to submit as many files as you desire.

  3. When you submit a file you will see process bar appear for the file which will notify you when the file is submitted.

  4. You can then view all of your uploaded data to date by choosing the “My Data” link from the left navigation menu.

Update Metadata and Enter Similar Metadata Entry

Once submitted, you cannot update your metadata; the Approver alone can do this. Once the metadata record is approved, however, you will have the ability to update the metadata.

The “Update” button at the bottom of the desired record can be selected to modify an approved record. For instance, additional years and geographic coordinates can be added to update the Temporal and Spatial coverage of a study. While the record is waiting for re-approval, only the out-dated record will be available online.

To add similar metadata to an existing entry, go to “My Metadata” in the navigation menu, and click the title of the metadata entry that your new entry will be based on. A summary of the selected data will appear. By clicking “Similar Entry” at the end of the page, you can then add a similar metadata entry.


My Metadata

“My Metadata” on the navigation menu allows for metadata management. Once clicked, a table containing a list of your metadata will be shown on the page. The table has six columns: CCIN Reference Number, Title, Status, Created Date, Last Modified Date and Data Uploaded.

The CCIN reference number is assigned automatically to the metadata record. It is a unique identification number for each individual record.

Metadata can have different statuses, which include:

  • “SAVED” (metadata has been validated and can be edited prior to submission)
  • “SUBMITTED” (metadata has been submitted for review and approval)
  • “APPROVED” (metadata has been approved and is now publicly visible in the PDC Search website)
  • “SENT BACK” (metadata has been returned to the creator for editing)
  • “RESAVED,” “RESUBMITTED,” and “REAPPROVED” status are present if the metadata has been previously approved and updated

Part II: Search for Data

This section guides you through the process of searching for data using user-defined criteria. Anyone can search for data using our PDC interface.

  1. Go to the PDC home page and click on the maps on the left to start your search.

  2. The user interface is divided into two panels.

    The left panel shows the map of the poles in polar stereographic projection. You can use the tab on the upper left corner of the left panel to switch between the Arctic, Antarctic and GIS Viewer. Tools are provided to explore the map, including zoom in and zoom out. The longitude and latitude of the cursor location is shown in the lower right corner of the map.

    The right panel provides the interface to do the search and show the search results.

  3. Choose one of the four data collections. The “Polar Data Catalogue” collection includes various non-exclusive research datasets, while the “Canadian Ice Service Sea Ice Charts” collection includes charts of data, and the “RADARSAT” Datasets include RADARSAT imagery of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice. You do not need to register to download most of the data in our system or to search for RADARSAT imagery. However, registration is required to download RADARSAT imagery.

Read and agree to the Terms of Use to continue.

Canadian Ice Service Sea Ice Charts

The Canadian Ice Services (CIS) Sea Ice Charts data collection consists of The Canadian Ice Service’s ice-related information from Canadian waters that is being made available through the Polar Data Catalogue, for public and research use. Weekly Regional ice charts and Image Analysis charts are currently available in the PDC, and summary information on Ship and Aerial observations is available, soon to be augmented with the corresponding charts.

Search for Data

Geographic Search:
For the geographic search, two options are available for selecting a particular region to limit the search. On the right panel, you can manually enter the latitude and longitude of the bounding box of your area of interest. On the left panel, you can select your own area of interest in a more interactive way: by clicking four points on the map as the bounding box of your area of interest. The points of the boundary box can be deleted and redefined by clicking the “Delete Last” and “Clear All” buttons beside the values of the latitude and longitude.
CIS Chart Type:
Ice charts serve tactical or strategic planning and operational purposes. They illustrate ice or iceberg conditions at a particular moment in time. There are four different CIS chart types to search by: Regional Charts, Image Analysis Charts, Air Observation Charts, and Ship Observation Charts.
CIS Data Type:
There are two different CIS data types to search by: information on Ice Concentration Data and Stage of Ice Development Data.
Time Period Search:
Enter the Start and End date of the study (or studies) for which you are searching.

These four search types (Geographic, CIS chart type, CIS data type and Time period) can be combined to further narrow the results.

Click the “Search” button to proceed to the results.


View Search Results

Once you have completed your search, the search results are listed in the right panel under the “Results” tab. The total number of results returned by the search engine is displayed at the bottom right corner of the page. If the search returns more than 25 results, you can use the blue navigation arrows at the bottom of the right panel to go through all of the pages, 25 results at a time. For each record, the results page shows the Title, Start date, a “Show/Hide” button (to show the study site on the map in the left panel) and Download link if the data can be downloaded directly from the PDC. All results can be sorted by “Ascending” or “Descending” order of the column fields (ex. sorted alphabetically by Title).

Information for each data record:
When the “+” button to the left of each record is clicked, detailed information about the data record will be shown. This information includes the Projection, File size (in KB), and Region of the data. You can also view the full metadata of a particular record by clicking on its Title.

The data coverage boundary box or the specific geographic location of the data record will be shown on the map in the left panel when the “Show/Hide” button is clicked. Clicking “Hide all” will clear all the location information for the data records shown on the map.

Metadata for each data record:
The metadata for each result is displayed under the Metadata tab, when the Title of a record is clicked. You will first be directed to the CIS Metadata which includes information about: the Title, Valid Date, Update Date, Catalogue Date, Region, Chart type, Authors, File size, Projection, and Foot print of the dataset. To view the ISO 19115 or FGDC standard metadata, click on the blue link above the table.

This will provide information about the selected data record, including, but not limited to: Citation information, Description, Temporal coverage, Spatial domain, Keywords, Place, Status, Constraints, Point of contact, and Metadata reference information.


Download Data

The “Download” column of the results table under the “Results” tab provides information about data availability in the PDC. To download the data that is readily available, simply click on the “DATA” link and you will be directed to the Data tab. Here, you will be able to click on the link shown below to download the selected chart from the CIS website.

Note: Air and ship observation charts currently do not offer downloadable data, so the “Download” column for these records would have “N/A” listed.


Part III: Approvers Guide

Approvers are responsible for checking the quality of the metadata and data before it is made available to the public. If you have Approver access, you should have a “My Metadata Approvals” and a “My Data Approvals” link in the left navigation menu when you log in to the PDC. These pages should show all of the records that were submitted to you, as well as the records you have previously approved.

  1. To approve a submitted record, go to the “My Metadata Approvals” page.


    Then, click on the title reference number of the record you want to check for errors.

  2. Once reviewed, the choices at the bottom of the metadata record’s page are:
    1. Approve: Metadata record will be approved and searchable online shortly.

    2. Update: Small changes to the metadata record can be made, with the record being saved again.

    3. Send Back: Metadata record is sent back to the submitter with questions and guidance, if significant changes are required.

    4. Cancel: Decide to change nothing and back out of the metadata form.

  3. As an approver, you can edit already approved records, by clicking the “Update” button at the bottom of the page. The record will no longer be available to the public until it is approved again. The Approver can also send back a previously approved record to its creator if important changes are needed (by clicking “Send Back” and providing comments or questions for the submitter).

Checklist for Metadata Approvers of the Polar Data Catalogue

The following points summarize the main items that should be verified before approving a metadata record:

  1. Make sure there is an email address of the data producer in the record, for contact purposes. If there is no available link to data, this email address should be in the “Links to data” field too.

  2. Check the content of the record for a description of the variables sampled. The important variables should be selected as keywords (even if they are present in other fields such as Abstract, Purpose, Study Site, etc.).

  3. Add keywords as needed, such as keywords that are overarching, especially when only sector-specific keywords have been used. For example, studies examining certain bird species may have the species’ names as keywords but should also include the more general keyword “bird.”

  4. Make sure that files containing potentially sensitive information are noted. Scan these records for:
    • The release of confidential information such as names of individuals
    • Possible compromises to individuals, communities or ecosystems.

    It may be suggested that large geographic regions be identified rather than specific communities, to avoid divulging potentially sensitive information.

  5. Check the latitude and longitude co-ordinates (all Canadian longitudes should be negative and all latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere should be positive). For study sites that are stations and not bounding areas, check that the user has simply repeated the same latitude and longitude, instead of entering zero.

  6. Ensure a proper format is used for the field “How data should be cited.” For example, use the publication citation; or if no publication is yet available, the author(s) names followed by “unpublished data” should be used.

  7. If you believe that significant changes need to be made to a record, you can “send back” the record to the creator and request these changes.

  8. Once the record is approved, please verify in the Polar Data Catalogue that:
    • The record appears in “Results” tab after a search. You may use a keyword from the record or use the left panel to select a boundary box that would encompass the Study Site.
    • The co-ordinates show up in the correct position on the map. You can check this by using the “Show/Hide” button in the “Results” tab.
    • The metadata appears when you click on the record’s title.

    Note: It may take up to one hour for the record to be online, following its approval.

The CCIN will conduct periodic quality checking of records, and you may receive a list of previously approved records that require your attention. You can either make the noted corrections (i.e. for simple changes, such as an incorrect sign on the coordinates) or send it back to the creator for larger changes, if deemed necessary.

If data is uploaded with the metadata, it is important to review the data files for quality as well.

Checklist for Data Approvers of the Polar Data Catalogue

The following points (taken from the “PDC’s Best Practices for Sharing and Archiving Datasets Guide” – also found on the PDC Help Document page) summarize the main items that should be verified before approving a dataset:

  1. Ensure that uploaded datasets correspond to the metadata record.

  2. Verify and modify data file names according to the established standards for the PDC (found in Best Practices, Section 2.2). In particular, check that the file name:
    • Starts with the CCIN Reference Number
    • Ends with file creation date or version number
    • Contains only numbers, lower case letters, dashes, and underscores
    • Contains no spaces or special characters (e.g., !,%,&,@)
    • Has a maximum of 150 characters
    • Has the proper file extension
  3. Verify that datasets, directory structure and file names are logically arranged (Best Practices, Section 2).

  4. Verify that file formats are non-proprietary: .txt, .csv, .zip, .asc, .jpg, .tiff, etc. (Best Practices, Section 3). If possible, convert Microsoft Word and Excel files to text (.txt) or Adobe Portable Document Format (.pdf). Refer to the Best Practices for procedures for converting datasets that are provided in proprietary formats (Section 3 and Appendix A).

  5. Ensure that each data file can be opened.

  6. Verify data file format (Best Practices, Section 3), in particular that:
    • Data format is consistent throughout the files
    • Header row is descriptive and linked to Metadata, if applicable
    • Column headings clearly describe content of columns
    • Data are delimited in proper columns
    • Date format is yyyy-mm-dd or yyyymmdd
    • Time format is in 24h rotation (ex. 13:30 hrs or 1330 hrs instead of 1:30 p.m.)
    • Spatial coordinates are decimal degrees to at least 4 digits
    • Data organization is consistent
    • Units are clearly indicated
  7. Perform data quality assurance, if applicable (Best Practices, Section 6), in particular regarding:
    • Missing values for key parameters (e.g. sample identifier, station, time, date, geographic coordinates)
    • Content of measured or derived values
    • Impossible values
    • Geographic coordinates
  8. Review accompanying README file (Best Practices, Appendix D), in particular that:
    • All applicable sections are filled out
    • Abbreviations and acronyms are defined
    • Variables/parameters and units are described
    • Data treatment and methodology are described
    • Reference to papers describing methodology, if applicable
    • Related datasets are properly cited
  9. Ensure that accompanying documentation files can be opened and are self-explanatory.

Part IV: Frequently Asked Questions

User Interface

  1. How do I change my login information?
    Once you are logged into the PDC input, click the “Edit Profile” option. You have access to change every field, except for your email address (due to security reasons).
  2. What if I forgot my password?
    On the home page of the PDC input, click the “Forgot password” link. Enter your email address and you should immediately receive an email with a new temporary password reset link, with which you can click and then reset your password.
  3. How do I report an error I experienced with the PDC?
    Once you are signed in to the PDC input, there is a “Report Error” option in the top toolbar.

    Through this, you can send us an email describing the error you received. You will need to include your email address so we know whom to contact once the problem is resolved.

    Please provide a clear and detailed description of the error that occurred, by answering the following questions:
    1. What page were you on? Please provide the URL or name of the page.
    2. What were you doing? Please provide your steps preceding the error, as well as your last steps that produced the error.
    3. What happened? Please include the text description of the error.
    4. When did this happen? Please provide the date and approximate time of the error.

    Note: Some errors occur as a result of the usage of an unsupported browser, or if you do not have JavaScript or cookies enabled.

Metadata and Data Entry

  1. What is Metadata and why is it important?
    Metadata is basically data about data. Metadata provides the what, where, when of data and by whom it was collected, as well as its current location. Metadata facilitates the understanding, use, and management of data and is a tool for networking and collaboration. Standardized metadata is an internationally confirming standard of information fields that must be included within the metadata to allow interoperability between metadata management facilities.
  2. What information is required to submit metadata?
    Please refer to the “Descriptions of required information in Metadata Input Form,” available on the PDC’s Help page.
  3. How do I submit metadata and data?
    1. Log in to the PDC and click the “Submit Metadata” option in the left navigation menu.
    2. Fill out the Metadata Input Form completely and appropriately.
    3. Validate and save the metadata record.
    4. Submit data to accompany the metadata record, if available.
    5. Submit the metadata record and wait for approval. If your record is sent back, make the required changes and submit the record again.
  4. How do I view my metadata records?
    Once you log in to your account in the PDC, there is a “My Metadata” link in the left navigation menu, which contains all your metadata records.
  5. How do I view my data files?
    Once you log in to your account in the PDC, there is a “My Data” link in the left navigation menu, which contains your data files corresponding to your metadata records.
  6. How do I update my metadata?
    When you are in the “My Metadata” page, select the metadata record you want to update. There should be an “update” button at the bottom of the record. You can only update a record if the status is “saved” or “approved.” If the status is submitted,” you must wait until the record is “approved” or “sent back” by the Approver.
  7. Is there a way I can upload several similar metadata records without typing the same information each time?
    Click on the metadata record you would like to copy from your “My Metadata” page. Scroll to the bottom of the record and click on the “Similar Entry” button.
  8. Why do I receive emails from the PDC?
    Users who create metadata or submit data files receive an email when their metadata records are “approved” or “sent back” and when their data files are “approved.” Approvers also receive emails when metadata is submitted for approval.
  9. What happens after my metadata is reviewed by the Approver?
    Once reviewed, each metadata record will be given a status of “approved,” “update,” or “sent back.”
    1. Approved: Metadata record is approved and will be searchable online shortly.
    2. Update: Approver may make small changes and save the record again.
    3. Sent back: If significant changes are required, the record will be sent back to the submitter.
  10. What happens if the approver does not approve my metadata?
    An email will be sent to you, including details for improving your metadata.
  11. How soon can I find my approved metadata in the PDC Search tool?
    If an approved record is updated and re-approved, the search tool updates and provides the new metadata online immediately.

Quality Assurance

  1. Why do metadata and data files need to be reviewed and approved?
    Before data can be publicly available through the PDC search tool, the record needs to be checked for quality assurance. This is to ensure that the record is documented without error. After users create and submit metadata, they are sent to the Approvers of the associated Research groups. Approvers can “approve,” “update,” or “send back” the record to the submitter for major revisions.
  2. Who are Approvers?
    Approvers are appointed by the PDC to review and approve submitted metadata and data records. Approvers see a “My Metadata Approvals” and “My Data Approvals” tab, in addition to the options available to the average user.
  3. What functions do Approvers have?
    These are the buttons Approvers have under each metadata record:
    1. Approve - Metadata record is approved and will be searchable shortly.
    2. Update - Approver may make small changes and save record again.
    3. Send back - The record will be sent back to the submitter, with suggestions for improvements.
    4. Cancel - Returns to “My Approvals” page.