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Website of the Week — National Snow and Ice Data Center

Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations.

We've been having some unseasonably cold weather in Washington this week, which may be why we're highlighting the National Snow and Ice Data Center's website. It's a place for researchers to download raw data related to glaciers, oceans, ice cores, agriculture and so on. It's also where non-specialists can learn more about Earth's cold regions, and in particular in one section devoted to snow and ice as indicators of climate change.

RENFROW: "The State of the Cryosphere [section] is broken up into different sections of focus — essentially snow, glaciers, permafrost, and sea ice — so that you can really focus on how those specific aspects of the frozen regions of our world influence climate."

Stephanie Renfrow is a spokesperson for the National Snow and Ice Data Center at Among the other features on the site is something called Ice Trek.

RENFROW: "And that basically is a blog from one of our scientists who went down to Antarctica to explore the lifecycle of an iceberg in Antarctica, to watch it drift and better understand the melt processes that happen as that iceberg drifts into warmer waters."

It's a little like looking over their shoulders as scientists do their work. Senior scientist Richard Armstrong says one of the strengths of the website is that it reflects the work of real scientists doing cutting-edge climate research.

ARMSTRONG: "So there's constant feedback between the data archive people; the writers, science writers; and the scientists actually doing the research, which we think is a really value-added component to our website and our overall operation."

Some information from those data archives he mentions is now available in a format compatible with Google Earth. It's a demonstration project for now, but it does illustrate new ways that non-scientists may be able to use and understand scientific data.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center online at, or get the link from our site,