About NSIDC: Expertise


The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), located at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder, supports research into our world's frozen realms: the snow, ice, glacier, frozen ground, and climate interactions that make up Earth's cryosphere. Scientific data, whether taken in the field or relayed from satellites orbiting Earth, form the foundation for the scientific research that informs the world about our planet and our climate systems.

two photos of same valley taken from same location showing changes, as described in caption, over time
Muir Glacier in Alaska, like many glaciers, has changed through time. At left, the glacier in 1941; at right, the glacier in 2004. From the NSIDC glacier photo pairs collection.

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

Our mission

NSIDC began in 1957 as an analog archive and information center—the World Data Center (WDC) for Glaciology—to archive data and information from the International Geophysical Year 1957-1958. 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. Today, we manage polar and cryospheric data and conduct research under sponsorship from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

NSIDC archives data and makes hundreds of scientific data sets accessible to researchers around the world. Our data managers and scientific programmers work in teams with our in-house researchers, who specialize in frozen ground, glaciers, ice sheets, sea ice, and snow. These teams in turn work closely with data providers and data users to understand their needs and offer documentation, tools, and formats that support their research. We also ensure that data and related information are continually preserved and will be accessible for the longer term, so that researchers can study climate change over long periods. Together these practices ensure the physical and scientific integrity of the data we manage and disseminate.

image of September 2007 sea ice minimum

Sea ice is one important area of NSIDC research and data. In September of 2007, Arctic sea ice extent shrank to the lowest in the satellite record. Arctic image courtesy NASA Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio, based on data from AMSR-E.
Four researchers standing on an Antarctic iceberg with a weatherstation tower

NSIDC scientists regularly collaborate within international teams. The NSIDC IceTrek team placed the instrument tower pictured above on a drifting Antarctic iceberg. For more about IceTrek and other field research projects, see Education Center: Studying the Cryosphere.

During the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2009, NSIDC will participate in IPY research and support researchers with leading-edge data management practices and services, ensuring the legacy of IPY research and resulting data into the future.

For more information

To access our data, please see Data Products and Services. See Research Projects to learn more about our scientific research. To learn about our participation in IPY, see IPY at NSIDC.

See Also


The International Polar Year has important implications for data management at NSIDC.

Related Resources

Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)

University of Colorado at Boulder

The National Snow and Ice Data Center

Supporting Cryospheric Research Since 1976
449 UCB  University of Colorado  Boulder, CO 80309-0449
NSIDC Home  | NSIDC Web Policy  |  Use/Copyright Info