Search Help

Keyword Community Page


The Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) now offers a Keyword Community Forum to provide keyword users and metadata providers with a place to discuss GCMD Keyword topics. Please visit the forum for all new keyword news and references.

Controlled keyword vocabularies ensure that metadata is described in a consistent manner and allow for the precise searching of metadata records and subsequent retrieval of data and services. There are seven sets of controlled keywords in the directory: (1) Earth Science, (2) Data Services, (3) Data Centers, (4) Locations, (5) Instrument/Sensors, (6) Platforms/Sources, and (7) Projects.

Over 450 unique visitors have accessed the keywords through the RESTFul service, and over 200 visitors have accessed the keywords through the static directory since the services were made available in early 2013.

The GCMD/IDN staff release announcement of version 8.4 Science Keywords.

Download the GCMD Keywords

Keyword Governance - Guidelines for Suggesting New or Revised Keywords

The GCMD science team maintains the keyword lists. The GCMD Science Keyword Rules and Procedures for Modification of the GCMD Keywords have been developed to ensure that the quality and mutually exclusive nature of the keywords are maintained. New versions of the keywords will be announced on this page and via an email announcement. If you would like to receive keyword release announcements, subscribe to the GCMD/IDN Interoperability Forum. The GCMD welcomes input and contributions from the science community on the keyword lists.

Organizations Using GCMD Keywords

Organizations using GCMD keywords consist of U.S. and international agencies, universities, and scientific institutions (see partial list below). The ways that organizations are using the keywords includes: (1) Using GCMD Keywords as an Authoritative Vocabulary/Taxonomy/Thesaurus To Describe Earth Science Data, Services, and Visualizations, (2) Using/Integrating GCMD Keywords in a Database to Search and Access Earth Science Data within a Metadata Catalogue/Website, and (3) Using GCMD Keywords To Create Ontologies for the Semantic Web.

  • Australian Institute of Management
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS)
  • CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Australia
  • EuroGEOSS
  • Federation of 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
  • 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
  • Norwegian Polar Institute
  • Norwegian Polar Data Center
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic 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)
  • World Data Center for Soils


How to Cite GCMD Keywords

Please use the following citation when using the GCMD keywords:

Global Change Master Directory (GCMD). 2016. GCMD Keywords, Version 8.4. Greenbelt, MD: Global Change Data Center, Science and Exploration Directorate, Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). URL:

History of Keyword Changes

The GCMD Earth science keywords evolve as new metadata records are added and existing records are modified to meet the changing needs of the Earth science community. The keywords were first offered to the public on April 24, 1995 as version 1.0.0. The most recent version is 8.4. See the full list of keyword changes here.


NASA Logo -
Link to Web Site