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News Release 16-031

NSF funds new $5.9 million Arctic data center at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Center will serve as NSF Arctic researchers' primary repository for data preservation and data discovery

Environmental chambers in early morning light in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in western Alaska.

Environmental chambers in early morning light in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in western Alaska.

March 23, 2016

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has made a five-year, $5.9 million award to a national partnership, led by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to develop and curate a new archive for Arctic scientific data as well as other related research documents.

When the new archive, the NSF Arctic Data Center, is launched later this month, it will serve as the NSF Arctic research community's primary repository for data preservation and data discovery. NCEAS will run the new center under a cooperative agreement with NSF.

"The NSF Arctic Data Center will provide the data storage, curation, and discovery features needed to support NSF's Arctic science community, and we will be actively engaging researchers to determine how to improve support for open, reproducible science for the Arctic," said Matthew Jones, director of informatics research and development at NCEAS and principal investigator for the NSF award. "The data center will be able to archive not just data, but other research products such as software, workflows and provenance information about the entire research process."

Jones added that NSF "has been forward-thinking in not only providing guidance for their investigators to implement data management planning but also in providing a repository explicitly for preserving Arctic research data that are valuable in addressing social and environmental issues."

NSF has required data management planning as part of research proposals since 2011.

The data center will offer not only access to the data itself, but will also offer researchers features to allow them to work with the data in new and different ways.

"NSF is pleased to support NCEAS and its partner organizations in this effort to make Arctic data available to researchers across the world," said Marc Stieglitz, NSF Arctic natural sciences program manager. "This is particularly important now because of the rapid pace of Arctic environmental change. This new facility will help researchers study Arctic change and inform societal decision-making."

The new data center interface will allow users to search for data from the extensive Arctic data collection using filters, such as the name of data creator, year, identifier, taxa, location and keywords and others. The "discovery interface" will also provide a map-based overview of the spatial distribution of data sets and allow users to zoom and pan to specific locations of interest, which will be helpful in locating historical data in specific regions.

Authors will be able to seamlessly upload and share their data from their desktop, contributing associated metadata and assigning a Digital Object Identifier so that their data are easily citable. The data center team will also continue to support data management planning and access to Arctic data publications, in addition to user support services.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and the NSF-funded Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE) are partners in the Arctic data center cooperative agreement between NSF and NCEAS.

"NOAA has active and growing interests in the Arctic," said Eric Kihn, director of NCEI's Center for Coasts, Oceans, and Geophysics, adding, "NCEI is pleased to leverage our existing scientific data stewardship infrastructure and expertise to support this effort to preserve and make available the Nation's extensive investments in Arctic observations and information."

"This is a welcome advance for open data and a great benefit to the Arctic research community," he added. The NSF Arctic Data Center will support this community with the release of a user-friendly, data sharing platform built on an open-source search application developed at NCEAS and used by multiple repositories and networks, including the NCEAS' KNB Data Repository, DataONE, and the Gulf of Alaska Data Portal.

An extensive data management and open science training program for Arctic researchers will launch late in the first year of the program and will target early career and underrepresented groups.

A webinar to introduce the the data center system to the Arctic research community is scheduled for April 21. Registration information may be found at the NSF Arctic Data Center website. Full details about the data center's partners, leadership and steering committee may also be found on the website.

The new archive will succeed the extensive Arctic data collection curated by the Advanced Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (ACADIS), which is managed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Snow and Ice Data Center.


Media Contacts
Peter West, NSF, (703) 292-7530, email:

Program Contacts
Marc Stieglitz, NSF, (703) 292-2461, email:

Principal Investigators
Matthew B. Jones, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis University of California, Santa Barbara, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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