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Keywords:

  • climate data records;
  • maturity model

The demand for climate information, with long observational records spanning decades to centuries and the information's broad application for decision making across many socioeconomic sectors, requires that geophysicists adopt more rigorous processes for the sustained production of climate data records (CDRs). Such processes, methods, and standards are more typically found in the systems engineering community and have not generally been adopted in the climate science community. We propose the use of a maturity matrix for climate data records that characterizes the process of moving from a basic research product (e.g., raw data and initial product) to a sustained and routinely generated product (e.g., a quality-controlled homogenized data set). This model of increasing product and process maturity is similar to NASA's technical readiness levels for flight hardware and instrumentation and the software industry's capability maturity model. Over time, engineers who have worked on many projects developed a set of best practices that identified the processes required to optimize cost, schedule, and risk. In the NASA maturity model, they identified steps in technology readiness, denoted as the technology readiness level (TRL). TRL 1 occurs when basic research has taken the first steps toward application. TRL 9 is when a technology has been fully proven to work consistently for the intended purpose and is operational.