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Recommended Best Practices for Better Sharing of Climate Data

Open Data

Creative Commons is happy to share our “Recommendations for Better Sharing of Climate Data,” informed by major government and intergovernmental climate agencies including ECMWF, NASA, NOAA, and the World Resources Institute. These recommendations help public climate data-producing institutions to choose the most suitable legal terms and licenses, and use metadata that center the user experience around attribution, licensing, and provenance. Click to access the full report here, and click to access the the PDF summary here.

At Creative Commons, we believe that addressing global challenges like the climate crisis requires opening the knowledge about those challenges. We are thrilled to announce the release of our “Recommendations for Better Sharing of Climate Data”— the culmination of a nine-month research initiative from our Open Climate Data project. These guidelines are a result of collaboration between Creative Commons, government agencies and intergovernmental organizations. They mark a significant milestone in our ongoing effort to enhance the accessibility, sharing, and reuse of open climate data to address the climate crisis. Our goal is to share strategies that align with existing data sharing principles and pave the way for a more interconnected and accessible future for climate data.

Our recommendations offer practical steps and best practices, crafted in collaboration with key stakeholders and organizations dedicated to advancing open practices in climate data. We provide recommendations for 1) legal and licensing terms, 2) using metadata values for attribution and provenance, and 3) management and governance for better sharing.

Click to access the full report here, and click to access the the PDF summary here.

Opening climate data requires an examination of the public’s legal rights to access and use the climate data, often dictated by copyright and licensing. This legal detail is sometimes missing from climate data sharing and legal interoperability conversations. Our recommendations suggest two options: Option A: CC0 + Attribution Request, in order to maximize reuse by dedicating climate data to the public domain, plus a request for attribution; and Option B: CC BY 4.0, for retaining data ownership and legal enforcement of attribution. We address how to navigate license stacking and attribution stacking for climate data hosts and for users working with multiple climate data sources.

We also propose standardized human- and machine-readable metadata values that enhance transparency, reduce guesswork, and ensure broader accessibility to climate data. We built upon existing model metadata schemas and standards, including those that address license and attribution information. These recommendations address a gap and provide metadata schema that standardize the inclusion of upfront, clear values related to attribution, licensing and provenance.

Lastly, we highlight four key aspects of effective climate data management: designating a dedicated technical managing steward, designating a legal and/or policy steward, encouraging collaborative data sharing, and regularly revisiting and updating data sharing policies in accordance with parallel open data policies and standards.

As we release these recommendations, we extend an invitation to join us in an ongoing journey of collaboration. Together, we can continue to develop policies and practices that open up data, fostering advancements in climate research and innovation. Send us your comments at

Posted 29 January 2024