World Data Center System
Web site maintained by:
NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center
325 Broadway, Code E/GC
Boulder, CO 80305-3328 USA
This Web site complies with the DOC/NOAA/NESDIS Web policy.
For more information on the World Data Center System Web Site
in Boulder, contact: Susan.McLean@noaa.gov,
NOAA/NGDC Mail Code E/GC1, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO USA 80305. fax 303-497-6478.
LATEST NEWS ON THE NEW WORLD DATA SYSTEM
Please note that, as of the end of 2008 following the ICSU General Assembly in Maputo, Mozambique, the Panel on World Data Centers no longer exists and that the World Data Centers will be incorporated into the new ICSU World Data System (WDS) in 2009. A similar procedure will involve members of the Federation of Astronomical and Geophysical data-analysis Services (FAGS) grouping of ICSU. In addition, it is envisaged that additional (i.e. non-FAGS and non-WDC) organizations will be encouraged to join the new WDS. When the WDS has its own web site, this WDC web site will be discontinued.
At the time of writing, a Transition Team composed of former WDC Panel and FAGS Council members is discussing how best to organize the transition arrangements to the new WDS without interruptions in the services provided by existing organizations.
About the World Data Center System
Scientific data gathering has a long history. Chinese and other peoples
chronicled information about solar and auroral activity in past millennia. In the
Western world, systematic geophysical measurements extend back for centuries. The
first large-scale international scientific enterprises were the International Polar
Years of 1882-1883 and 1932-1933, which eventually led to the International Geophysical
Year of 1957-1958 (IGY). The International Council of Scientific Unions (now
International Council for Science) established the World Data Center system to serve
the IGY, and developed data management plans for each IGY scientific discipline.
Multiple Centers were established to guard against catastrophic loss of data, and for
the convenience of data providers and users. The IGY planners were remarkably prescient:
the 1955 recommendation mentioned that Data Centers should be prepared to handle data in
machine-readable form, which at that time meant punched cards and punched tape.
Since the IGY, technological advances have transformed the gathering and exchange of
data. Scientific, technical, and economic factors have led to the consolidation of some
WDCs--particularly in solar terrestrial science--and the creation of new ones--
particularly in earth and environmental science. As of December 2003, 52 WDCs are
operating in Europe, Russia, Japan, India, China, Australia, and the United States.
Data are available at the cost of reproduction, and fees may be waived if an exchange
can be arranged. Data are accepted in many formats, provided that they have adequate
documentation. Please contact the appropriate WDC for more information on contributing
and exchanging data.
Today the WDC system is healthy and viable. Most Centers are maintaining their
funding, though not without struggle. Data acquisition, storage, and distribution
are expensive. WDCs cost money, but they are cost-effective in transferring data
to users, and their operational costs represent a tiny fraction of worldwide
scientific activity and the on-going potential for discovery from properly prepared,
preserved, and available data.