National Geophysical Data Center


The National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), now known as the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), is a United States government agency under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It is responsible for maintaining and providing access to extensive archives of geophysical and environmental data. These datasets include information on Earth’s geology, magnetic and gravity fields, climate, oceans, and natural hazards such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

Key Takeaways

  1. The National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) serves as a repository for a wide range of geophysical data that encompasses Earth’s physical properties, natural hazards, and environmental processes.
  2. NGDC works to acquire, preserve, and distribute these valuable data sets, giving researchers, governmental agencies, and the general public access to essential geophysical information.
  3. The data managed by NGDC includes information on Earth’s magnetic field, seismology, climate, oceanography, and solar-terrestrial interactions, which are essential in understanding various aspects of Earth’s systems and supporting decision-making processes.


The National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) is an essential component of technological advancements in the field of geophysics, as it serves as a central repository for the collection, storage, and dissemination of geophysical data on a national and international scale.

Managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the NGDC collects vast amounts of data from various sources, including satellites, ground-based sensors, and oceanographic instruments, covering topics such as earthquakes, tsunamis, solar activity, and geomagnetic storms.

By consolidating and providing access to this vital information, the NGDC fosters scientific research, supports the development of innovative technologies, aids in disaster planning and mitigation, and helps improve our understanding of Earth’s complex geophysical processes, ultimately benefiting a wide range of industries and society as a whole.


The National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) serves a critical function as a repository for a wide variety of geophysical data, providing valuable information for researchers, businesses, and the general public alike. As part of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the center aims to foster a comprehensive understanding of the Earth’s systems by collecting, archiving, and disseminating geophysical data from various sources, such as satellite missions, ground-based observation networks, and research expeditions.

These data sets are essential for monitoring and analyzing natural phenomena like earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis, as well as understanding vital aspects of the planet’s climate, magnetic field, and topography. By providing open access to high-quality information on the Earth’s physical properties and dynamic processes, NGDC plays an essential role in advancing scientific knowledge, supporting decision-making, and contributing to public awareness of vital environmental issues.

In addition to its core mission of data stewardship, NGDC also develops innovative tools and technologies to facilitate the analysis and visualization of geophysical data. With the increasing volume and complexity of data available, the center continually enhances its capabilities for handling, processing, and rendering diverse data types and formats.

Some of its key contributions include geospatial web services that enable users to access and manipulate geophysical data in real-time, as well as software tools that support the creation of accurate digital representations of the Earth’s surface. Through these efforts, NGDC empowers a wide range of stakeholders, from scientists and resource managers to educators and policy-makers, to make more informed decisions and gain new insights into the complex interplay of environmental, social, and economic factors affecting the Earth’s well-being.

Examples of National Geophysical Data Center

The National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), now known as the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States. The organization collects, archives, and provides access to various geophysical and environmental data, aiming to better understand Earth’s systems. Here are three real-world examples of the work done by NGDC/NCEI:

Earthquake Data: The NGDC/NCEI provides a comprehensive database of global earthquake events, including event date, location, and magnitude. This information helps researchers and policymakers in assessing the risks associated with earthquakes and implementing strategies for disaster preparedness.

Tsunami Database: The NGDC maintains the Global Historical Tsunami Database, containing information on tsunami events from as far back as 2000 BC. This data is crucial in understanding the frequency, severity, and impacts of tsunamis and helps coastal communities prepare for future events.

Solar Data: The NGDC/NCEI archives solar data, such as solar irradiance and sunspot numbers, based on satellite measurements and ground-based observations. This information is used to study the Sun’s effect on climate, space weather, and communication systems and to inform the development of solar energy technologies.

National Geophysical Data Center FAQ

What is the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC)?

The National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) is a data archive operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NGDC is responsible for managing, archiving, and distributing geophysical and environmental data from various sources including earth observations, solar events, and oceanographic surveys.

What types of data does the NGDC collect?

The NGDC collects a wide range of geophysical and environmental data such as geomagnetic, seismologic, tsunami, solar and space weather, marine geological and geophysical, and environmental datasets from various sources, including NOAA and the global scientific community.

How can I access the data held by the NGDC?

You can access the data held by the NGDC through their online data services, such as the Climate Data Online (CDO) system, the Solar and Terrestrial Physics (STP) system, and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS). Visit the NGDC website for more information on specific datasets and access options.

Is there a cost associated with accessing NGDC data?

Most of the data and services provided by the NGDC are freely available to the public. However, there may be some specialized datasets or services that require a fee. You can find more information about any associated costs on the respective dataset’s information page on the NGDC website.

Who can use NGDC data?

NGDC data is available to researchers, scientists, educators, students, and the general public. The data can be used for various purposes, including advancing scientific research, developing new products and services, making informed decisions, and promoting public awareness of environmental issues.

Related Technology Terms

  • Geospatial Data
  • Earth Observations
  • Geomagnetic Data
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Seismology

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