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Temporal Coverage


The <Temporal_Coverage> field specifies the start and stop dates during which the data was collected.

<Temporal_Coverage> consists of:

  • <Start_Date> is the starting date of the data collection.
  • <Stop_Date> is the ending date of the data collection.


Year, month and day must follow the International Standard ISO 8601 in the form: yyyy-mm-dd, where:

yyyy= the 4 digit year
mm= the 2-digit month (01 – 12)
dd = the 2-digit day (01-31)

  • <Temporal_Coverage> is a highly recommended field and may be repeated.
  • <Start_Date> and <Stop_Date> may not be repeated within <Temporal_Coverage>.
  • <Stop_Date> should be omitted if data continue through the present.
  • <Start_Date> may be omitted if the starting time of data collection is completely unknown, as in a database where data had been collected over a long period of time or had been passed down to various authorities. The inclusion of a <Stop_Date> without a <Start_Date> is not valid in the GCMD DIF schema.
  • For map data sets, the publication date should be entered in both <Start_Date> and <Stop_Date>. 
  • Repeating the <Temporal_Coverage> within the metadata record implies that there are gaps in the data coverage and that the temporal coverage is not continuous. This field is not to be used to indicate the temporal resolution of the data set (see <Data Resolution>).


Example of temporal coverage that describes data that is continuously being collected (i.e. no  <Stop_Date> is necessary).



This document should be cited as:
Directory Interchange Format (DIF) Writer's Guide, 2018.
Global Change Master Directory.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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