The MEDATLAS format is an autodescriptive ASCII format. it has been designed to describe verticales profiles (reference parameter = Pressure or Depth), timeseries (reference parameter= Date/Time) and trajectories (reference parameter = Localisation and Date/Time). This format, created in the 90's, was conform to the international the ICES/IOC GETADE recommendations (see references), to fulfill the following requirements :
- To facilitate the reading of the data
- To be independent of the computer ;
- To keep track of the history of the data including the data collection and the processing. Then each cruise during which the data were collected must be documented ;
- To allow the processing of profile independently. Therefore the date, time and geographical co-ordinate must be reported on each profile header ;
- To be flexible and accept (almost) any number of different parameters ; The real numbers (floating numbers must remain in the same way as they have been transmitted, not re-formatted into integer numbers). The number of decimals must implicitly indicate the accuracy of the measurements.
The format has been upgraded in the frame of the SeadataNet projects (from 2006) to be interoperable with the SeaDataNet infrastructure.