The coolest member of the data family

NASA's Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) collects, archives, and shares data on the cryosphere

Roger Barry

"The ice sheets aren't standing still, they are changing . . . much faster than what the common opinion was in the '90s."

Ron Weaver, NSIDC,
DAAC manager

Akin to an army of diligent scribes, the data centers of NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) record and order information about the planet, 24-7.

This family of information gatherers collect and collate information from the polar-orbiting satellites about the Earth's land surface, the biosphere, the atmosphere and the oceans, creating a foundation scientists around the world can use to improve their knowledge of the planet. One member of that family, the Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) based at CIRES National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), chronicles the story of the cryosphere.

DAAC keeps tabs on changes in glacier velocity in Alaska, ice-sheet elevation in Antarctica, and the

extent and mass of Arctic sea ice, among other things. Operation IceBridge, for example, collects airborne remote-sensing measurements and combines them with ground-based observations to depict rapidly changing portions of land and sea ice in polar regions.

"The ice sheets aren't standing still, they are changing," said DAAC manager Ron Weaver of NSIDC. "They are changing much faster than what the common opinion was in the '90s, before we had the first IceSAT satellite."

"One of the things that the data center does is reveal how scientists do their work," said Weaver. At DAAC, researchers not only provide data, they detail the algorithms used in processing scientific information. These are then archived and made available to other scientists.