White House unveils climate website

NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan announced the 3rd annual International Space Apps Challenge at the Climate Data Initiative launch.

NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

The White House has launched a new web site where local communities and researchers can access government data on regional climate impacts.

As part of the president’s larger Climate Action Plan, unveiled last summer, climate.data.gov, aims to better inform local decision makers when making climate related policy decisions.

Localizing this information gives a sense of how this affects people and spurs action,” said Obama’s advisor John Podesta at the launch, according to the New York Times.

In 2012, for example, the North Carolina state legislature voted to ignore climate science about rising sea levels. “If people in North Carolina had had this initiative, that decision would have been less likely,” added John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The website, a new section of the broader data.gov, hosts climate change-related data from agencies like National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). There are also datasets related to infrastructure from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. Going forward, it will be a hub for many other sets of data, many of which will outline the myriad of ways that climate change will affect people and our wild lands.

“This effort will help give communities across America the information and tools they need to plan for current and future climate impacts,” Podesta and Holdren wrote on the White House blog.

“In 2012 alone, extreme weather events caused more than $110 billion in damages and claimed more than 300 lives. While no single weather event can be attributed to climate change, we know that our changing climate is making many kinds of extreme events more frequent and more severe,” they added.

The first batch of climate data shared is related to coastal flooding due to sea level rise. NOAA and NASA have launched a Coastal Flooding Challenge to stimulate and utilize innovation in the private sector by inviting them to come up with ways to use the data to show potential coastal hazards.

The initiative is collaborating with mapping organizations including Esri and Google, who is also partnering with University researchers to support the project.

The Wilderness Society supports White House efforts to address climate change, which affects our wild lands as well as nearby communities. 

Watch a video of the White House’s announcement of the launch below:

 

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