NSIDC History

photo of Flatirons near Boulder

NSIDC has served at the forefront of cryospheric data management practices since 1976; today, we are part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

NSIDC began in 1957 as a World Data Center (WDC) for Glaciology and was responsible for archiving all available glaciological information. The American Geographical Society established the WDC under Director William O. Field. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) Glaciology Project Office operated the WDC between 1971 and 1976 under the direction of Mark F. Meier.

In 1976, the USGS transferred responsibility for the WDC to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Data and Information Service, and the center moved to the University of Colorado in 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 National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) and National Science Foundation (NSF) funding to manage selected Arctic and Antarctic data and metadata.

Milestones in the history of WDC Glaciology/NSIDC:

2007–2009—International Polar Year (IPY)

2006—NSIDC celebrates its 30th Anniversary

2003—Full suite of Earth Observing System (EOS) cryospheric sensors (AMSR, GLAS, MODIS) in orbit

2002—Frozen Ground Data Center established with International Arctic Research Center (IARC) support

2001—NSIDC celebrates its 25th Anniversary

1999—Antarctic Glaciological Data Center (AGDC) established with NSF support

1996—Antarctic Data Coordination Center (ADCC) established with NSF support

1993—NSIDC receives first DAAC contract

1990—NSIDC receives funding from NSF for Arctic System Science (ARCSS) Data Coordination Center (ADCC)

1983—NSIDC receives grant from NASA for archiving Nimbus-7 passive microwave data

1982—NOAA designates the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC); NSIDC becomes part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder

1976—WDC for Glaciology transfers from the USGS to the University of Colorado at Boulder under the direction of Roger Barry, with support from the National Geophysical Data Center, Environmental Data and Information Service, and NOAA

1970—WDC for Glaciology transfers from the American Geographical Society to the USGS in Tacoma, Washington

1957—United States National Committee for the IGY awards the operation of WDC-A for Glaciology to the American Geographical Society

1957–1958—First International Geophysical Year (IGY)