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The World Data Center (WDC) system was created to archive and distribute data collected from the observational programs of the 1957-1958 International Geophysical Year. Originally established in the United States, Europe, Russia, and Japan, the WDC system has since expanded to other countries and to new scientific disciplines. The WDC system now includes 52 Centers in 12 countries. Its holdings include a wide range of solar, geophysical, environmental, and human dimensions data. These data cover timescales ranging from seconds to millennia and they provide baseline information for research in many ICSU disciplines, especially for monitoring changes in the geosphere and biosphere — gradual or sudden, foreseen or unexpected, natural or man-made.
WDCs are funded and maintained by their host countries on behalf of the international science community. They accept data from national and international scientific or monitoring programs as resources permit. All data held in WDCs are available for no more than the cost of copying and sending the requested information.