Dear CMIP5 Modelling Teams,

The questionnaire to collect metadata about your model setup for CMIP5 is ready for you to use. The questionnaire will provide vital information to help users of the CMIP5 database understand why different models respond in unique ways to the forcings defined by the CMIP5 experiment protocol. Completion of the questionnaire is a necessary step towards the publication of your data. The value of the metadata captured by the questionnaire is down to you. The questionnaire will ask you to describe core information about your models and it also gives you the freedom to share further model characteristics as you see fit. Once all the core information has been described you will be able to submit your questionnaire entries to CMIP5. Completing the CMIP5 questionnaire is a demanding task, support will be provided to you by the Metafor team who designed and developed the questionnaire under the guidance of the CMIP panel.

Getting Started with the questionnaire
The Metafor questionnaire for CMIP5 metadata can be seen at The "Example" area of the questionnaire is freely accessible for all to browse - we will fill this with examples of how the questionnaire has been completed by other modelling groups. The "Test" area is there for you to experiment before entering information for real, it is possible go back and modify information entered into the questionnaire but the platform, grid, model and simulation elements can not be deleted. Instructions for accessing the rest of the questionnaire can be found at The questionnaire works best with a Firefox web browser. Google Chrome and Safari are also supported however the questionnaire will not display properly when viewed with Internet Explorer.

What is the questionnaire?
The questionnaire will gather comprehensive descriptions of CMIP5 models, simulations and hardware. For the first time we will be able to properly compare CMIP simulations according to the scientific properties of the models. We will also know how each model was modified to perform every CMIP5 simulation. To find out this information we need to ask a lot of questions. To make sure we asked the right questions the Metafor team spent months meeting with modelling experts to find out what they need to know to compare model simulations in their field. The result is the CMIP5 questionnaire The questionnaire has questions about 500 different model parameters across all 8 CMIP5 realms (Atmosphere, Aerosols, Atmospheric Chemistry, Ocean, Ocean Bio Geo Chemistry, Sea Ice, Land Surface, and Land Ice); this is a lot of information but many of the questions offer multiple choice responses from controlled vocabularies so that answers can be directly compared across models. Controlled vocabularies also make answering questions straight forward - once you know the answer. The information we gather in the questionnaire will be of benefit to the wider community of climate data users e.g. impacts and mitigation communities. The more information you provide, the better your data will be described, and thus wider the data will be used by the community.

How long will it take to complete?
We expect you to return to the questionnaire many times over several weeks before it is complete. You will most likely need to consult several colleagues to fully complete your model and simulation descriptions and we advise you prepare for this time consuming - but key - task. The questionnaire has been organised into realms so that different parts can be filled in by different people, as we envisage that several users from each modelling group will interact with the questionnaire. Each page of the questionnaire can be exported as a text document showing multiple choice options and the selections you have made, in this way you can share model descriptions with colleagues.

Why is it not a simple form?
We have developed the questionnaire as an interactive web document because we have found from our experience of gathering metadata for model intercomparison projects that the standard descriptions are sometimes not enough for all of our users. Therefore the Questionnaire gives users the scope to describe further model information. We will use the extra information to grow our controlled vocabularies which will be a valuable resource for the whole community. We have restricted access to the CMIP5 questionnaire so that only those users who have an OpenID issued by an ESG Federation OpenID provider can request access to individual modelling centre pages. Instructions for access to the questionnaire can be found at

Need help?
Support for the questionnaire is being provided by a dedicated METAFOR team with individuals from BADC, the University of Reading, the Met Office and CERFACS. You can contact the support team via email to cmip5qhelp at (if necessary, we will also be available by telephone to talk you through the questionnaire and answer any questions you have). We have also set up a mailing list (cmip5q at where users can ask open questions about the questionnaire; to register with the cmip5q mailing list follow this link: .

A Road Map  powerpoint /  pdf presentation is available to guide you through the questionnaire. Screen-casts will be added to the questionnaire to provide further assistance. Regular screen sharing demonstrations of the questionnaire will be run by the support team for as long as the CMIP5 community requires this service - information about these demonstrations will be circulated separately. Further advice about the questionnaire can be found in the open letter to our users .

kind regards

Eric Guilyardi, Metafor coordinator
Charlotte Pascoe, Metafor CMIP5 questionnaire support lead
and the Metafor team