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World Data Centers

The World Data Center (WDC) system was created to archive and distribute data collected from the observational programs of the 1957–1958 International Geophysical Year. Originally established in the United States, Europe, Russia, and Japan, the WDC system has since expanded to other countries and to new scientific disciplines. Its holdings include a wide variety of environmental data that cover timescales ranging from seconds to millennia. These data provide baseline information for research in many disciplines, especially for monitoring changes in the geosphere and biosphere.

At the end of 2008, following the International Council for Science (ICSU) General Assembly in Maputo, Mozambique, the WDCs were reformed. A new ICSU World Data System was established in 2009, building on the 50-year legacy of the WDCs and the ICSU Federation of Astronomical and Geophysical Data Analysis Services. The ICSU World Data System concept aims at a transition from existing stand-alone services to a common globally interoperable distributed data system that incorporates emerging technologies and new scientific data activities. The World Data Center for Meteorology, Asheville; the World Data Service for Paleoclimatology, Boulder; and the World Data Center for Oceanography, Silver Spring, are all full members of the ICSU World Data System.

The World Data Center for Meteorology

The World Data Center (WDC) for Meteorology, Asheville is hosted by and operated in conjunction with NCEI, in accordance with the principles set forth by the ICSU World Data System (WDS).  The WDC for Meteorology, Asheville acquires, catalogs, and archives data and makes them available to users in the international scientific community as well as to the general public. Data are exchanged with counterparts, including the WDC for Meteorology, Obninsk and WDC for Meteorology, Beijing as necessary to improve access to climate and weather data.  The WDC for Meteorology, Asheville, was a founding member of the WDS in 2011 and was a member of the predecessor to the WDS dating back to the 1960s.

The World Data Service for Paleoclimatology

The World Data Service for Paleoclimatology (formerly the WDC for Paleoclimatology) archives a broad variety of paleoclimatic proxy data and climate reconstructions, including data for thousands of locations worldwide. These data enable understanding of climate change over decades, centuries, and millennia, and they are freely available without restriction, strengthening international science for the benefit of society. The World Data Service for Paleoclimatology is collocated with NCEI’s paleoclimatology group in Boulder, Colorado.

The World Data Service for Oceanography

The World Data Service for Oceanography (formerly the WDC for Oceanography, Silver Spring) is one component of a global network of centers that help facilitate international exchange of scientific data. NCEI hosts the WDS for Oceanography in Silver Spring, Maryland. In accordance with principles set forth by ICSU, the WDS for Oceanography acquires, catalogues, and archives data, publications, and data inventory forms and makes them available to requesters in the international scientific community. Oceanographic data contributed to the WDS for Oceanography become automatically available to scientific investigators in any country. Thus, there can be no restrictions or limitations placed on data exchanged through the ICSU World Data System.