Data Management for Long-Term Monitoring of Fluctuations of Glaciers of
North America and Northwestern Europe


Greg Scharfen, National Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center-A for Glaciology John L. Dwyer, Earth Resources Observations System (EROS) Data CenterStephan Suter, World Glacier Monitoring Service/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

Data management support for glacier-related data varies depending on the sponsoring agency and government. Principal data centers represented at this workshop that provide services to the international community are the National Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center-A for Glaciology (NSIDC/WDC-A), the Earth Resources Observations System (EROS) Data Center (EDC) and the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS).

NSIDC/WDC-A supports the glaciological community with a variety of data management activities. These include: an extensive bibliographic collection of reports, reprints and periodicals; a microfilm copy and computer index of the USGS glacier photo collection to 1982; the American Geographical Society collection of approximately 10,000 glacier photos; a World Wide Web-based inventory of glacier information (This includes entries for more than 34,000 glaciers from the Former Soviet Union and China, each with up to 28 variables). Cooperative efforts with the WGMS are resulting in expansion of the inventory to include glaciers from New Zealand, the Alps, Norway and West Greenland); and the NSF-funded Arctic System Science (ARCSS) Data Coordination Center at NSIDC (including the archival of the Greenland Ice Sheet Program 2 (GISP2) data). Research activities include a Global Glacier Mass Balance Synthesis and a study of West Antarctic Ice Streams using various remote sensing data.

NSIDC is one of several NASA Earth Observation System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Distributed Active Archives Centers (DAACs). The NSIDC DAAC is responsible for higher level cryospheric and polar products from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR) and the Geoscience Laser Altimetry System (GLAS). The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) will provide a global source of well calibrated, high resolution data for glaciological studies using visible, near infrared and thermal infrared data. The derivation of glaciological information from ASTER data is being coordinated by the USGS in Flagstaff, AZ, and is called Glacier Land Ice Monitoring System (GLIMS). NSIDC is participating in this cooperative effort with regional partners to assemble an extensive collection of ASTER images and to conduct regular surveys of representative glaciers using these images. NSIDC is planning to be the EOSDIS node for access to the derived glaciological data from GLIMS.

EDC has responsibility for the archive, management, and distribution of numerous collections of aerial photography, digital geospatial data, and airborne and spaceborne remotely sensed data, the latter of which comprises the National Satellite Land Remote Sensing Data Archive (NSLRSDA) that resides at EDC. The USGS data at EDC that are relevant to the glaciological research community include: black & white, color, and color-infrared aerial photography; Landsat multispectral scanner (MSS) and thematic mapper (TM) data; NOAA Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data; digital elevation models (DEMs); and digital line graph (DLG) base cartographic data.

EDC supports NASA EOSDIS as the Land Processes DAAC. As part of the EDC EOSDIS Version 0 activities, numerous data sets have been acquired, processed, and archived for distribution in support of current global change research. These data include: Landsat Pathfinder data sets; NASA aircraft scanner data (NS001, thematic mapper simulator, and thermal infrared multispectral scanner); Shuttle Imaging Radar-C (SIR-C); and 1 km global digital elevation model data. The EDC DAAC will be responsible for the processing, archiving, and distribution of selected higher level data products from the MODIS and ASTER instruments (including ASTER data used in GLIMS analyses). The EDC will also have the primary U.S. responsibility for the reception, processing, archive, and distribution of Landsat 7 enhanced thematic mapper (ETM+) data.

The WGMS maintains glacier inventory data (spatial distribution of world surface ice), and glacier fluctuation data (changes in time of glacier parameters like mass balance, length changes, area/volume changes, ELA, AAR, etc.). Inventory data currently exist from 36 countries and about 70,000 glaciers; fluctuation data is archived from 33 countries and about 1,550 glaciers, including "high quality" mass-balance data from 58 glaciers in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. More information on types and availability of data are given in Appendices 8 and 9.

Other data centers important to the glaciological community include the National Hydrology Research Institute in Saskatoon, Canada, the Geophysical Institute's GeoData Center at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, (see list attached to Trabant, and others, summary on Alaska on p. 35 of this report) and the Arctic and Antarctic Data Center in St. Petersburg, Russia.

NSIDC/WDC-A, EDC and the WGMS have the capability or are developing systems to support data archive and distribution, coordination of metadata, referral services, a user interface, and scientific stewardship of data sets. Increasingly, these centers coordinate their activities to provide a common basis for user services, cross-referral of information, and submission of metadata to international data dictionaries such as the Global Change Master Directory (GCMD), the Arctic Environmental Data Directory (AEDD) and the Antarctic Data Directory (ADD).

We encourage individual scientists to become familiar and utilize the services at these facilities and to coordinate published results and documented data sets with them. We also recommend the identification of other organizations and individuals responsible for glacier-related information in each country. [an error occurred while processing this directive]