Atlas of the Cryosphere now available

Release Date: February 2, 2007

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) Atlas of the Cryosphere ( is a dynamic web mapping site, designed to be user-friendly, that allows the visitor to explore and interact with the frozen regions of Earth. Viewed from a polar perspective, information that can be displayed includes snow cover, sea ice extent and concentration, glaciers, permafrost, and other critical components of the Earth's cryosphere. The user can zoom in to a specific region on the Earth as well as overlay country borders, major cities, and other geographic information. This site should act as a useful tool in science and education efforts surrounding the upcoming International Polar Year (IPY) (2007-2008) and beyond, providing at a glance the geographical setting for snow and ice on the planet.

In addition to providing an interactive web interface, customizable maps images are also accessible via the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Web Map Service (WMS). In the near future, the Atlas will also support the Web Feature Service (WFS) and Web Coverage Service (WCS) for accessing select vector and raster data sources respectively (stay tuned to this RSS feed for an announcement later this month). For more details about accessing these OGC services, click here. These international specifications provide a framework for sharing maps and geospatial data over the internet.

We welcome your feedback on this project. If you have questions, comments or suggestions, please contact NSIDC User Services at +1.303.492.6199,, or via our online contact form. The development of this map server application was supported by NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS) Program under contract NAS5-03099 and was developed using MapServer, an Open Source development environment for building spatially-enabled internet applications. The Atlas of the Cryosphere was developed by John Maurer.