The acquisition, processing, manipulation and archiving of global-scale environmental data sets are essential for the success of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). In order to successfully implement its individual Core Projects, as well as to meet its overall objectives, IGBP has established a cross-cutting, data-focused activity called IGBP-DIS (Data and Information System): IGBP-DIS ensures that an overall perspective of IGBP data needs is maintained. In particular, IGBP-DIS has placed priority on catalyzing the development of data sets of value to multiple IGBP Core Projects, and on ensuring that IGBP data will be properly archived and made accessible to the scientific community at large. IGBP-DIS was founded in 1992, and is currently funded by the following partners: the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) or French Space Agency, the European Space Agency (ESA), Météo-France, the US Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), and the French Région Midi Pyrénées.
The production of data sets requires months, and very often years of effort and collaboration to acquire original raw data, build the algorithms that will pre-process these raw data and then derive scientific products, assess the resulting data set quality, and finally archive and distribute the data. Emphasis in the IGBP-DIS data set development activities has been given to terrestrial data sets, both remotely sensed and in situ. Data sets developed include a 1km AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer onboard the NOAA polar orbiting satellites) global land data set over the period April 1992 - September 1993 from which a global land cover classification and a global fire product have been derived, under IGBP-DIS guidance as well. A global data product of soil characteristics, a global data set of past vegetation for 6000 years ago, and a compilation of existing data sets of primary productivity are other examples of data sets under development.
Data management ensures that valuable data will not be lost perhaps for ever, data sets from different location will not be found to be inherently incompatible, reliable long term data sets are created, and data sets are easy to find. Progress has been made in the creation of novel meta-data information systems associated with high-resolution satellite data. The data management and long-term archiving issues are addressed in collaboration with a number of data centers such as the ICSU (International Council of Scientific Unions) Word Data Centers. For the data distribution, IGBP-DIS, like many others, has been active in exploiting the benefits of the Internet and the Word Wide Web, as well as technologies such as the CD-ROM one. The global nature and scientific inter-dependency of IGBP makes it necessary to give special attention to coordination with other bodies and organizations. For instance, IGBP-DIS must work closely with others in the global observing systems to strengthen the case for improved observations. The link between IGBP-DIS and CEOS (Committee on Earth Observation Satellites) is particularly strong.