About the Arctic Data Center

The Arctic Data Center is the primary data and software repository for the Arctic section of NSF Polar Programs.

Strong partnerships for preservation

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The NSF Arctic Data Center will help the research community reproducibly preserve and discover all products of NSF-funded science in the Arctic, including data, metadata, software, documents, and provenance that link these in a coherent knowledge model. Key to the initiative is the partnership between NCEAS at UC Santa Barbara, DataONE, and NOAA’s NCEI, each of which bring critical capabilities to the Center. Infrastructure from the successful NSF-sponsored DataONE federation of data repositories will enable data replication to NCEI, providing both offsite and institutional diversity that is critical to long term preservation.

Data management tools

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Researcher-facing submission tools will provide convenient pathways to document and archive diverse data formats as part of scientists’ normal workflows (e.g., both through the web and via analytical tools such as Matlab, R, and IDL). This infrastructure will be supported with an outstanding set of community services, including data discovery tools, metadata assessment and editing, data cleansing and integration, data management consulting, and user help-desk services. While the Arctic Data Center won’t launch with all of these services in place, they will be added incrementally through a set of iterative improvements based on strong feedback from the Arctic research community.

Rich community support

Users frequently need help with repository services, with questions ranging from the mundane to the highly technical, to the profound (how much detail is needed in my metadata?). Center staff will provide multiple support services, including online support via email and live chat. Staff will enhance, maintain, and distribute instructional materials, system documentation, and Frequently Asked Questions, and answer direct questions from repository researchers as they arise. We will help with everything from data submission to developing data management plans for proposals. Our data support team will also engage the community to prioritize and preserve critical Arctic data from past NSF research that is currently inaccessible.

Training and Outreach

Each year, our training and outreach staff will help provide hands on training at Arctic research conferences and in dedicated training sessions targeting early-career and under-represented populations. Training and outreach will focus on effective means for long-term data management, following a curriculum being developed and refined by the open science community.

Powered by rich, detailed metadata

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Data underlies metadata


For scientists, the Arctic Data Center is an efficient way to share, discover, access, and interpret complex data about the Arctic. Due to rich contextual information provided with data, scientists are able to integrate and analyze data with less effort. The data originate from a highly-distributed set of field stations, laboratories, research sites, and individual researchers. The foundation of the Arctic Data Center is the rich, detailed metadata provided by researchers that collect data, which promotes both automated and manual integration of data into new projects.

Open-source software

share-iconAs part of the Arctic Data Center effort, data management software is developed in a free and open source manner, so other groups can build upon the tools. The Arctic Data Center is powered by the Metacat data management system, and is optimized for handling data sets described using the Ecological Metadata Language, but can store any XML-based metadata document. Metacat and EML are also used by many repositories, including the KNB Data Repository and the DataONE search system.

Easily share your research and get more exposure with the DataONE network

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Credit: DataONE

As a long-term repository, the Arctic Data Center allows you to preserve your data for future generations of scientists. However, you can share your data with your colleagues today, and get a permanent identifier for all files in your data set. The Arctic Data Center supports Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs), so your data sets can be confidently referenced in any publication.

As an upcoming DataONE Member Node, the Arctic Data Center will securely replicate your data to other servers, maintaining all of the privacy controls you set. This means that your data are secure in the event that the Arctic Data Center servers themselves experience any catastrophic failure. What are the benefits of the Arctic Data Center being a DataONE Member Node?