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Looking for facts and information? See About the Cryosphere.
Icelights: Answers to your burning questions about ice and climate
What's hot in the news around climate and sea ice and what are scientists talking about now? Read more...
What is the Cryosphere?
When scientists talk about the cryosphere, they mean the places on Earth where water is in its solid form, frozen into ice or snow. Read more ...
Stewards of data, past and present
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission on Marine Meteorology (now the Joint WMO/ Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology, or JCOMM) established a Global Sea Ice Data Bank of digital sea ice chart information from the operational ice forecasting centers of participating nations in November 1986 (WMO, Summary Report of "Informal Workshop on feasibility of establishment of a Global Sea Ice Data Bank", Washington, D.C., Joint Ice Center, 3-5 November 1986). By bilateral agreement between NSIDC and the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI), St. Petersburg, Russia, elaborated and signed by the directors of given institutions in September 1990 and approved by WMO Secretariat in 1991, two archiving centers (at NSIDC and AARI) were established.
The objective of the GDSIDB project is to preserve ice chart data for use by researchers, and to encourage its conversion from paper or graphical form to digital form. The GDSIDB began as a 1984 Commission on Marine Meteorology recommendation, but until recently, most ice services produced paper charts by manually integrating various source data. The U.S. National Ice Center, for example, converted to a wholly digital method of producing and distributing charts in 1996. Prior to the use of digital technology by the ice services, charts could only be archived by storing them as paper products or by scanning them. The GDSIDB instituted a method for converting analog charts to raster digital products, established a format for them, and designated archive locations (at AARI and NSIDC). Most ice services now use GIS systems to produce charts, and this is spurring the development of a new GDSIDB archive format.
At NSIDC, GDSIDB data sets are handled under the NOAA data management project, and are part of the World Data Center for Glaciology, Boulder. NSIDC's efforts have focused on acquiring funds for the digitization of historical paper charts, on reformatting digital chart data to make it easier for researchers to use, and on helping develop a new vector format. Florence Fetterer leads the GDSIDB project at NSIDC.
At AARI, Vasily Smolyanitsky leads the GDSIDB project. Work has included the development of on-line browse tools for selected data sets, climatological products, and documentation including on-line terms of reference and glossaries in Russian and English. Potential users are encouraged to explore the GDSIDB at AARI, where you will find data products and information not available on the NSIDC GDSIDB site.
Many of the GDSIDB participants are also agencies participating in the International Ice Charting Working Group (IICWG).