Quality-assessed and harmonised soil information is needed to underpin a wide range of studies of environmental, societal and economic sustainability. Yet soil remains one of the least well described data in global land models and uncertainties remain large. The available source data (point, polygon, and grid) are unevenly distributed worldwide. They are presented in various formats using different standards and subject to different conditions for use (licences).
ISRIC is the World Data Centre for Soils (WDC-Soils) since 1989 and a regular member of the ICSU World Data System (ICSU WDS) since 2011. In that capacity we provide a focus for soil-related collections and information services. An important element of our work is the data rescue program, aimed at safeguarding older (legacy) data (maps, reports, point data) which may be at risk of loss or deterioration, and digitizing these materials. These and newer materials provided by our partners provide the 'raw' input for further processing in the World Soil Information Service (WoSIS). Subsequent to successive stages of quality control, standardisation and harmonisation, selected datasets are served freely to the international community, in accord with the licence specified by each data provider.
Our collection includes country documentation (reports, maps and slides), soil specimens (monoliths, samples, thin sections, hand specimens), as well as geo-referenced databases (point, polygon, and raster). These may be consulted on site and/or on-line.
A progress report discussing main activities of ISRIC WDC-Soils during 2014-2016 was presented at the WDS Members Forum 2016 (SciDataCon2016, Sept. 2016, Denver, USA). This procedure is part of the biennial certification procedure of regular members of ICSU-WDS.
Since 2011, ISRIC is a regular member - node that deals directly with data curation and data analysis services- of the ICSU World Data System (ICSU WDS): the "WDS will support ICSU’s mission and objectives, ensuring the long-term stewardship and provision of quality-assessed data and data services to the international science community and other stakeholders". As member of ICSU WDS, ISRIC is registered as a Participating Organization of the intergovermental Group on Earth Observations (GEO).
ISRIC obtained the status of International Council for Science (ICSU) World Data Centre (WDC) in 1989, in recognition of its "unique collection of soil monoliths, maps and reports on the geography of soils and related natural resources". Initially named WDC for Soil Geography and Classification, it was later renamed to WDC-Soils to reflect the broadened scope of its long-term soil data stewardship.