Ruth Duerr

Principal Investigator/Project Manager, Data Management and Cyberinfrastructure
Manager, Data Stewardship


B.S., Summa Cum Laude, University of North Dakota, 1977
M.S., University of Arizona, 1980
Graduate Certificate in Science and Technology Policy, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2007


Science data management, digital archives management, records management, and digital library science; software and system engineering.

  • PI for the University of Colorado component of the Data Conservancy
    The Data Conservancy is funded by NSF and sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University. This collaborative project will build an infrastructure to manage digital information and enable ease of access within and across disciplines. Sayeed Choudhury, associate dean of Johns Hopkins University libraries, is the overall project PI.
  • Co-I for the Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic (ELOKA)
    ELOKA's mission is to provide data management and user support to facilitate the collection, preservation, exchange, and use of local observations and knowledge of the Arctic.

Recent Highlights

  • First Chair of ESIP Stewardship and Preservation Cluster, 2009-2010
  • National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO, 2002-present
  • Adjunct Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, 2013 -present
  • Alaska Satellite Facility, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, 1992-2002

Current Roles

Ruth Duerr is a data scientist/systems engineer and ex-software engineer at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Of late, she has been interested in four fields of inquiry: science data management, digital archives management, records management, and digital library science. All four fields are developing separately, yet share similar problem spaces—how to make available, usable and preservable digital data and information. Her research interests involve nearly all aspects of data stewardship and informatics. She currently is the manager of NSIDC's data stewardship program, lead of NSIDC's Informatics group and PI, co-I, Project Manager, and/or Product Owner for several ongoing and recent data management, informatics and cyberinfrastructure projects at NSIDC funded by NSF, NASA and NOAA.

Recent Projects

  • PI/Co-PI, Libre Data Services Libre (lee-bray) is a project devoted to liberating science data from its traditional constraints of publication, location, and findability. Building from existing open-source technology and data management standards, Libre makes it easy for scientists to make their data discoverable and usable by the whole world. Libre is a collaborative project supported by NSF, NASA, and the Polar Information Commons.
  • Co-PI, Improving Long-term Preservation of EOS Data by Independently Mapping HDF Data Objects The NASA Earth Observing System has more than a petabyte of critical earth science data stored in the HDF4 format. The normal way to access HDF-formatted data is through the HDF software libraries, either by using the HDF Application Programming Interface (API) directly or by using HDF tools that depend on the HDF libraries. However there is a risk in depending solely on the HDF libraries to access HDF-formatted data over the long term. It is possible, especially in the distant future, that the libraries may not be as readily available as they are today. To address this risk, it is desirable to have a way to retrieve the data independently. The goal of this project is to make HDF4 data accessible through markup-language-based tools, and to begin the process of deploying these capabilities at NASA data centers. The team will also investigate how this approach can be applied to the body of EOS data that is archived in HDF5 format in order to facilitate long-term access independently from using the HDF library and tools.
  • Co-PI for the CU component of the Product Development Team for Snow and Ice Climate Data Records This is a multi-institutional project funded by the NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). Collaborating institutions include the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), the University of Wisconsin, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), the University of Colorado (CU), and the National Snow and Ice Data Center housed within the CU/NOAA Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). The Cryosphere Product Development Team formed under this project will coordinate the generation, validation, and archiving of fundamental and thematic snow and ice climate data records. Our goal is to refine, extend, validate, document, and archive visible, infrared, and passive microwave cryosphere products. We will build on existing efforts, interacting with other funded products, as appropriate. We will coordinate existing and new products and will update heritage products to allow NOAA to continue with their production and dissemination into the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project and NPOESS era. We will establish “best practices” within the Team and for the broader cryosphere community, evaluating gridding options, consistency within and between similar products, and metadata.
  • Co-I, Creation And Preservation Of A Sea Ice Climate Data Record This project, funded by the NOAA Scientific Data Stewardship Program, will help NSIDC add higher-resolution AMSR data to the existing SMMR and SSM/I passive microwave instrument-based sea ice concentration record, and will improve the metadata attached to the record. NSIDC bases most of our sea ice tracking on the passive microwave sea ice concentration record.
  • Co-I, Cryospheric Change Analysis Web Services Project The Cryospheric Change Analysis Web Services (CCAWS) project is funded by NASA to develop a scalable cryospheric analysis portal for the study of Greenland's ice mass balance. This portal will include interactive data analysis tools, seamless data access, and interoperable information services. To make this possible, a set of existing subsetting, gridding, projection, and visualization tools at NSIDC will be made into modular Web services. Also, as part of this project, NSIDC will bring in several new data sets.
  • Co-I, Investigation and Tool Development for Storing NASA ECS Data Using HDF5 Archival Information Package (AIP) This project, funded by the NOAA Scientific Data Stewardship Program, will demonstrate one solution to the challenges of both archiving and distributing remote sensing data, namely migration of data to a single standards-based archive format. Data from NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) Data Centers formatted in Hierarchical Data Format (HDF) will be used in the demonstration.
  • PI, Discovery and Access to Historic Literature from the IPYs (DAHLI) DAHLI, partly funded through NOAA's Climate Database Modernization Program (CDMP) is developing an online bibliography of records and publications from past International Polar Year (IPY) events: 1882-1883, 1932-1933, and 1957-1958. Materials may include scientific research, scientific observations and data, sociological data, and historical data. DAHLI will stimulate the discovery and preservation of these rare and uncataloged items, estimated to be several thousand documents, in archives around the world. Current activities include digitization of materials related to the first and second IPYs, held at the Carnegie Institute.


Refereed Publications
See Google Scholar for a list of Duerr's publications.

Selected Presentations and Other Publications
See CIRES Publications Search to view a list of Duerr's presentations.

Data Sets

Coburn, E., R. Duerr, E. Schlagel, and A. Wallace. 2011. International Polar Year historical data and literature. Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center. Digital media.

Duerr, Ruth E., and Jonathan Crider. 2010. HDF4 Data Used to Assess Long-Term Access to Remote Sensing Data with Layout Maps. Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center. Digital media.

Related Resources

Ruth Duerr's FOAF file


Program for Arctic Regional Climate Assessment (PARCA)

Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)

Contact NSIDC User Services for more information.