SITE VISIT: Where to Check the Earth's Pulse

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Science  11 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5383, pp. 1567
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5383.1567b

From Earth's searing core to cosmic rays bombarding our atmosphere, the latest data on geophysical phenomena can be found at the Web site of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC). The site is useful for professionals and laypeople alike: Paleoclimate researchers can get oxygen isotope data from ice cores, for example, while retirees can check local magnetic fields to set the Global Positioning Systems in their Winnebagos.

NGDC's home page leads to a staggering amount of information on marine geoscience, paleoclimatology, solar-terrestrial physics, solid earth geophysics, and ice and snow. Here scientists can tap into data sets or order CD-ROMs on everything from tree rings to volcanoes, ocean bathymetry, and the ionosphere; by next year, NGDC hopes to add a system for making customized CD-ROMs, says NOAA's John Kinsfather. The site also offers teaching materials—such as a natural hazards slide show and quiz—and Defense Department satellite links for meteorology buffs to vicariously track hurricanes and wildfires. Given all this, it's perhaps no surprise that NGDC's hits are nearing 1 million unique computers a year.

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