[CF-metadata] Is "psu" a valid cf unit?

Lowry, Roy K. rkl at bodc.ac.uk
Tue Jul 18 07:00:58 MDT 2017

Hello Martin,

This topic has been debated at length in CF. To cut a long story short, the term 'Practical Salinity Unit' was coined when the 1978 Practical Salinity scale was devised. However, the term fell out of favour with the physical oceanographic community whose current recommended practice is that Practical Salinity - a ratio - should be a dimensionless number.  CF followed this recommendation and so PSU is not a part of CF.

Have a dig around in the mailing list archive if you want to find out more.

Cheers, Roy.

Please note that I partially retired on 01/11/2015. I am now only working 7.5 hours a week and can only guarantee e-mail response on Wednesdays, my day in the office. All vocabulary queries should be sent to enquiries at bodc.ac.uk. Please also use this e-mail if your requirement is urgent.

From: CF-metadata <cf-metadata-bounces at cgd.ucar.edu> on behalf of martin.juckes at stfc.ac.uk <martin.juckes at stfc.ac.uk>
Sent: 18 July 2017 13:43
To: cf-metadata at cgd.ucar.edu; d.c.hassell at reading.ac.uk; r.s.hatcher at reading.ac.uk
Subject: [CF-metadata] Is "psu" a valid cf unit?

Hello David, all,

Is "psu" a valus CF unit? It is not in Udunits, but it is added in cf-python as a unit alias and also appears to be accpeted by the cf-checker. I can't see any mention of it in the CF Convention document: the latter only lists level, layer, and sigma_level permitted departures from Udunits,


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