The National Snow and Ice Center (NSIDC) is based at the University of Colorado, in Boulder. It is a part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and began in 1957. Its basic premise is to support research into the frozen areas of the world. Research, using information from both technology such as satellites and from people in the field, is used to learn more about the planet and its climate.
NSIDC began , under the title of The World Data Center for Glaciology, over the year 1957-1958, with the remit to archive information from International Geophysical Year. Today they archive and manage data which relates to the Earth’s cryosphere. This could include small text files or data collected from NASA’s Earth Observing System, satellites which give us remote sensing data. NSIDC is sponsored by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation, to conduct research and deal with data relating to both polar and cryospheric fields.
Teams of researchers, programmers and data managers work to ensure that scientific data is available to researchers across the globe. NSIDC scientists specialize in the fields of frozen ground, ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice and snow, aiming to create ways to support research. The center also works to ensure that the data they manage and store is preserved in the longer term, making it available to researchers who are engaged in long-term projects.
Today, NSIDC is participating in the International Polar Year (IPY), which runs from 2007 to 2009. The project hopes to generate and manage research and data whilst supporting researchers. All this information is part of the mission statement which is available on the NSIDC website. However, there is much more to NSIDC and their website is an ideal place to discover more about their work and about how the data is used. There is also the opportunity to support the center with tax-deductible gifts or an endowment fund, if people are particularly interested in supporting this type of research.
The website provides a wealth of information, clearly presented and easy to understand. Although mainly aimed at researchers and those involved in the field, it is also possible for the lay-person to get information and to take a general interest in the research and data being managed and stored by NSIDC. The education center is filled with information and easy to use. Split into sections such as ‘All about Sea Ice’ and ‘All about the Cryosphere’, it is simple to find the information you are looking for, and to understand it once found. It is also possible to read about current research being done by the center, to follow individual projects and learn about news and events concerning both the center and fields related to their work, via other linked pages.
The NSIDC is an invaluable resource for researchers and the work they do to forward our understanding of our planet and its climate may well prove key to changing the way we react to our home.