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Obama Unleashing Power of Data on Climate Change

Wed, 03/19/2014 - 1:55pm
Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer

Comprehensive view of Earth's interrelated systems and climate: Four satellites contributed to the making of this image. Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) provided the land image layer and is a true color composite of land vegetation for cloud-free conditions from September 18 to October 3, 1997. Each red dot over South America and Africa represents a fire detected by the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer. The oceanic aerosol layer is based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data and is caused by biomass burning and windblown dust over Africa. The cloud layer is a composite of infrared images from four geostationary weather satellites: NOAA's GOES 8 and 9, the European Space Agency's METEOSAT, and Japan's GMS 5. Courtesy of NASAWASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration hopes to fight global warming with the power of numbers, maps and even gaming-type simulations. The White House on March 19, 2014, announced an initiative to provide private companies and local governments better access to already public climate data. The idea is that, with this localized data, they can help the public understand the risks they face, especially in coastal areas where flooding is a big issue.

The government also is working with several high-tech companies, such as Google, Microsoft and Intel, to come up with tools to make communities more resilient in dealing with weather extremes, such as flooding, heat waves and drought. They include computer simulations for people to use and to see what would happen with rising seas and other warming scenarios. Also, companies will hold brainstorming sessions with computer programmers aimed at designing new apps on disaster risk.

NASA and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration will try to get people to create simulations to understand flooding risks in an upcoming coastal flooding challenge. One effort would include putting sensors on Philadelphia city buses to collect data to track the effect of climate change.

In its second term, the administration has made more of an effort to connect global warming to its effect on people, especially extreme weather and disasters. White House advisers John Podesta and John Holdren in a blog said the idea is to create easy-to-use tools for the average person to prepare people to be more resilient to the harms of climate change.

Climate scientist Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who later this month will be the chief author of a massive United Nations affiliated report on the impacts of global warming, hailed the efforts.

"It is especially important for people, communities and firms to understand the features of their environment and their operations that create climate risk," Field said in an e-mail. "We need a serious, sustained conversation about climate change and dealing with it in a responsible manner."

The federal government plans a clearinghouse Web site for climate data at http://climate.data.gov

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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