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Restricted Data Information

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What is restricted data?

As more and more sources of input data become available for use in numerical modeling and research at NCEP, there are certain situations where a data provider, in return for access to and use of their data, may place restrictions on the circumstances under which such data may be redistributed to persons outside of the community of NCEP Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputing System (WCOSS) users.

Any data that is prohibited from being fully and freely redistributable to the general public is considered to be restricted. NCEP is required to honor all restrictions placed on the data we receive from any provider. Each type of restricted data has its own unique set of requirements, which are explained in further detail below. In general however, whenever any data is restricted, the restriction remains in force regardless of any reformatting, rearrangement, or method of presentation of the data. For example, restricted data cannot be graphically plotted on a web page that is accessible to the general public. Likewise, quality-controlled data values that are directly derived from restricted data are themselves also subject to the same restriction(s) as the original data.

To view a copy of the official NCEP policy pertaining to restricted data, click here.

Which types of data are restricted, and what are my obligations as a user?

Each of the data types listed below is restricted in some way. Files on the NCEP WCOSS which contain any such data (including, but not limited to, database files, model "dump" files, and PREPBUFR files) are accessible only to NCEP WCOSS users who consent to join a special UNIX group (rstprod). Such consent is implied once a user registers to obtain access to the restricted data as outlined below.

NCEP WCOSS users, who are granted access to restricted data, are responsible to ensure that any copies of the data they make (whether exact or reformatted) retain the restricted access that is applied to the data by NCEP Central Operations. In most cases this is accomplished by ensuring the group ownership of the data maintains its rstprod setting and the world access permissions of the data are turned off. An example of this procedure is:

chgrp rstprod

chmod 750

Restricted data users are NOT allowed to change the group ownership and world access permission for the duration of the time the restriction is in place. The exact duration of restriction is data dependent and is outlined in the links below.

Once a user is granted access, he or she is capable of redistributing restricted data to any outside entity providing that that entity meets the access and usage requirements for the particular data in question. Before making any such redistribution of data, the user is required to:

  1. Inform the intended recipient of the restrictions on the data

  2. Obtain an e-mail acknowledgement from the recipient that they understand and will themselves comply with the restrictions.

  3. Send a copy of the acknowledgement to the Restricted Data Management Team ( for archival purposes.

Sample e-mail templates for completing the required "inform and acknowledge" procedure are provided on the individual web pages for each type of restricted data listed below. Keep in mind that if a recipient were to subsequently and deliberately violate any restrictions on a particular type of restricted data, there is always a chance that NCEP as an organization could find itself cut off from that data by the original data provider. In most cases however, once a NCEP WCOSS user has obeyed the restrictions themselves and completed the three steps above, the NCEP WCOSS user has fully met their obligation.

Please note that, in cases where a NCEP WCOSS user may wish to redistribute a particular type of restricted data to an allowable recipient on a regular (e.g. daily, weekly, etc.) basis, it is not necessary to undergo the above "inform and acknowledge" procedure for every single data transfer; rather, in such cases, the procedure should be completed prior to the initial data transfer, with the explicitly-stated understanding that the underlying agreement remains in effect for all subsequent redistributions of the same data type to the same recipient.

There are currently seven observational data types that are restricted. For complete details regarding each type, including the specific nature of the inherent restrictions as well as any special requirements, click the appropriate link:

There is also one model data set that is restricted. The full resolution ECMWF deterministic and ensemble data sets may not be redistrubuted outside of the NWS.

The ability to access restricted data types, and the inherent obligations that accompany this ability, may not be of interest to every NCEP WCOSS user. Therefore, the decision to request access to restricted data is entirely voluntary, and there is no expectation that every user will elect to do so. Users who decide not to gain access to restricted data will still have full access to all of the unrestricted data available at NCEP, and they will also be able to access special unrestricted versions of many of the model "dump" files, PREPBUFR files, and the like. These files will have the same structure and applicability as their original counterparts, but all of the restricted data will have been removed so that such files can be made fully and freely available to the general public without condition.

How do I obtain access to the restricted data?

If you are a current NCEP WCOSS user, if you have fully read and understood the above information, and if you agree to follow and abide by these obligations, then click the icon below to access a short online registration form. The completed form will automatically be sent via e-mail to your NCEP WCOSS Account Sponsor , who in turn must then directly e-mail it to the NCEP WCOSS system administrators in order to indicate approval of your request for access to restricted data. Link to access the registration form.

Questions? Comments?

Send mail to Restricted Data Helpdesk.

Page last modified: 12 January 2023.