White House puts real-time climate data online for city planners

by Sebastien Malo | @SebastienMalo | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 22 September 2016 18:12 GMT

An aerial view of the cracked ground of the Atibainha dam, part of the Cantareira reservoir, is seen during a drought in Nazare Paulista, Sao Paulo state February 12, 2015. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Image Caption and Rights Information
"Critical to building climate resilience is ensuring easy access to authoritative, actionable data about ongoing and projected impacts of climate change"

By Sebastien Malo

NEW YORK, Sept 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A new website powered by the White House and partners including Google and Microsoft, aims to pull real-time climate data from NASA satellites and other sources for planners preparing for the effects of climate change, its founders said on Thursday.

It is the first partnership of its kind to gather in a single place climate projections and figures for decision-makers previously faced with a dearth of information, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI), one of the partners.

The website, www.prepdata.org (PREPDATA), will process data from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Interior, among other sources.

While raw climate data is often too technical for policy-making, PREPDATA will translate it into easy-to-use information, the U.S.-based environmental group WRI said in a statement.

John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said the project comes as communities worldwide face rising seas, more severe droughts and other climate-related extreme weather.

Last December, 195 nations agreed to try to hold world temperature rise to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius, with an aim of 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Paris agreement was ratified by the United States earlier this month.

"Emissions reductions alone are ... not a sufficient response to the climate crisis," said Holdren at a launch of the website on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York.

"Critical to building climate resilience is ensuring easy access to authoritative, actionable data about ongoing and projected impacts of climate change," he said.

In its current beta form, the website helps users find data relevant to their environment and visualize related risks, mapping coastal flooding or precipitation change, WRI said.

Over the next year, only four users will be able to make use of all the website's functions - California's Sonoma County, the cities of Porto Alegre in Brazil and Durban in South Africa, as well as the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington.

But after that it will be open to anyone, WRI said.

(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.