National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC)

Logo of National snow and ice data centerThe National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) [USA] is the top quality information and data source for ice, snow, glaciers, artic and antartic climate and other cryosphere related stuff.

On the first feel: The NSIDC internet home page is absolutely amazing, visually well organized super site on Ice and Snow data.

The NSIDC is located in Boulder, Colorado, USA – a 20 miles North West from Denver.

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The National Snow and Ice Data Center on

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) supports research into our world’s frozen realms: the snow, ice, glaciers, frozen ground, and climate interactions that make up Earth’s cryosphere.

NSIDC manages and distributes scientific data, creates tools for data access, supports data users, performs scientific research, and educates the public about the cryosphere.

NSIDC distributes more than 500 cryospheric data sets for researchers, from both satellite and ground observations. See Data at NSIDC to browse our holdings, get information, and download or order data sets.

Punchbowl Glacier, located along the Antarctic Coast, photo:

An in-flight photo of Punchbowl Glacier, located along the Antarctic Coast.
Photo: Ted Scambos and Rob Bauer, – IceTrek

Advancing knowledge of Earth’s frozen regions


NSDIC data management professionals and scientists work with data providers and users to create or publish data products, tools, and resources. NSDIC work to ensure that past, present, and future science data remain accessible for studying the Earth and its climate.


Scientists at NSIDC specialize in remote sensing of snow and ice, Arctic climate, frozen ground, ice sheets, glaciers, and more. Our researchers use the data products we offer, helping us better serve our research communities.


NSIDC began as an analog archive and information center, the World Data Center for Glaciology, to archive data and information from the 1957–1958 International Geophysical Year. Since then, NSIDC has evolved to manage cryosphere-related data ranging from the smallest text file to terabytes of remote sensing data from NASA’s Earth Observing System satellite program. Read more about NSIDC history.

A tabular iceberg floats in the ocean near the Antarctic Peninsula. Photo: Ted Scambos,

A tabular iceberg floats in the ocean near the Antarctic Peninsula.
Photo: Ted Scambos,

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) on Wikipedia

The National Snow and Ice Data Center, or NSIDC, is a United States information and referral center in support of polar and cryospheric research. NSIDC archives and distributes digital and analog snow and ice data and also maintains information about snow coveravalanchesglaciersice sheets, freshwater ice, sea ice, ground ice, permafrost, atmospheric ice, paleoglaciology, and ice cores.

NSIDC is part of the University of Colorado Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), and is affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Geophysical Data Center through a cooperative agreement. NSIDC serves as one of eight Distributed Active Archive Centers funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to archive and distribute data from NASA‘s past and current satellites and field measurement programs. NSIDC also supports theNational Science Foundation through the Advanced Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (ACADIS), the Exchange For Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic (ELOKA) and the Antarctic Glaciological Data Center. NSIDC is also a member of the ICSU World Data SystemMark Serreze is the director of NSIDC.


The World Data Center (WDC) for GlaciologyBoulder, a data center responsible for archiving all available glaciological information, was established at the American Geographical Society under Dr. William O. Field, Director, in 1957. Between 1971 and 1976 it was operated by the U.S. Geological Survey, Glaciology Project Office, under the direction of Dr. Mark F. Meier.

In 1976, responsibility for the WDC for Glaciology was transferred to NOAA, Environmental Data and Information Service (EDIS), and the center moved to the University of Colorado at Boulder under the direction of Professor Roger G. Barry. In 1982, NOAA created the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) as a means to expand the WDC holdings and as a place to archive data from some NOAA programs. In the 1980s and 1990s, support to NSIDC widened with NASA funding for the Snow and Ice Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) and NSF funding to manage selected Arctic and Antarctic data and metadata.


  • 1957-58: First International Geophysical Year
  • 1957: U.S. National Committee for the IGY awards the operation of WDC-A for Glaciology to the American Geographical Society
  • 1970: WDC for Glaciology transfers from the American Geographical Society to the U.S. Geological Survey in Tacoma, Washington
  • 1976: WDC for Glaciology transfers from the U.S. Geological Survey in Tacoma, Washington to the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado under the direction of Roger Barry
  • 1982: NOAA designates the National Snow and Ice Data Center
  • 1983: NSIDC receives grant from NASA for archiving Nimbus 7 passive microwave data
  • 1990: NSIDC receives funding from NSF for Arctic System Science (ARCSS) Data Coordination Center (ADCC)
  • 1993: NSIDC receives first DAAC contract
  • 1996Antarctic Data Coordination Center (ADCC) established with NSF support
  • 1999Antarctic Glaciological Data Center (AGDC) established with NSF support
  • 2001: NSIDC celebrates its 25th Anniversary
  • 2002: Frozen Ground Data Center established with International Arctic Research Center (IARC) support
  • 2003: Full suite of Earth Observing System (EOS) cryospheric sensors (AMSRGLASMODIS) in orbit
  • 2009: Mark Serreze named NSIDC director


International science and data management programs facilitate the free exchange of data and accelerate research aimed at understanding the role of the cryosphere in the Earth system. NSIDC contributes to a number of international programs. Most of these programs, only a few of which are mentioned here, fall under the aegis of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU).

NSIDC scientists participate in International Union of Geophysics and Geodetics (IUGG), International Association of Cryospheric Scientists (IACS), and in activities of the International Permafrost Association (IPA), the Global Digital Sea Ice Data Bank (GDSIDB), and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), including Climate and Cryosphere (CliC), Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX), the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). Former NSIDC Director, Roger G. Barry, was co-Vice Chair of the WCRP CliC Scientific Steering Group until 2005, and was a member of the GCOS/Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate through 2007.


Researchers at NSIDC investigate the dynamics of Antarctic ice shelves, new techniques for the remote sensing of snow and freeze/thaw cycle of soils, the role of snow in hydrologic modeling, linkages between changes in sea ice extent and weather patterns, large-scale shifts in polar climate, river and lake ice, and the distribution and characteristics of seasonally and permanently frozen ground. In-house scientists pursue their work as part of the CIRES Cryospheric and Polar Process Division, University of Colorado Boulder.

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