Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Climate Engine

Making drought data accessible for decision-makers

Sustainability

How is one data platform making it easier to manage natural resources as the climate changes?

Spotted: Climate change is bringing about increasingly erratic and extreme weather across the world. As well as posing a threat to life, climate change also has a massive financial cost: about $150 billion (around €139 billion) annually in the US alone. Monitoring conditions is essential, if countries are to plan and mitigate extreme weather effectively. One platform, Climate Engine, hopes to make that a lot easier.

In light of unprecedented drought conditions across the Western US, and the significant challenges with managing natural resources such as water availability and ecological health that come with drought, the website aims to provide the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) essential and actionable climate data.

The new reporting website uses cloud computing technology to provide multi-scale drought summaries and satellite-based vegetation models in near real time. Several factors set the new website apart from other land management decision-support tools. Firstly, it is a collaborative initiative, through a partnership with multiple research institutions, government agencies, and Google, that allows comprehensive satellite and climate data integration into succinct and consistent reports.

Climate Engine features a user-centric design as a publicly accessible platform that simplifies the process of generating detailed reports, maps, and time series plots for visualising complex ecological information, extending back to 1986 and leveraging historical climate data. Moreover, through a partnership with NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), the website provides drought indicators at a higher spatial resolution than what is available through many other tools. 

Eric Jensen, DRI Geospatial Data Scientist says the team plans to continue expanding the platform with new vegetation production reports, “which will support near real-time assessment of forage availability and fine fuels that can contribute to wildfire”. They also plan to integrate multiple additional satellite-based drought indicators. Finally, Jensen said there are plans to improve documentation and tutorials to support BLM’s staff.

Springwise has spotted other platforms to map climate data, including one for assessing heat risk and another to forecast floods.

Written By: Lauryn Berry

Email: elyse.defranco@dri.edu

Website: climateengine.org

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