This tech tool helps communities prep for climate change

28 December 2016

Rising temperatures and increased rainfall are threatening to wash out new homes, roads and businesses in the fast-growing city of Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Meanwhile, in California, Sonoma County is bracing for extreme weather that could put at risk the area’s famed wines.

Both places are at the forefront of a movement to use technology to prepare for the effects of climate change, whether it’s rising temperatures or extreme weather.
This cutting-edge effort is called the Partnership for Resilience and Preparedness, or PREP.

Right now, climate data often exists at universities and scientific agencies such as NASA or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Often, the information is hard to find and highly technical.

That’s where PREP comes in. The partnership collects data sets and makes them easy to explore, offering user-friendly “dashboards,” collections of tailored information.

“Nothing could be more critical than making this country, and countries around the world, more resilient to the effects of climate change,” said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA.

Porto Alegre is using PREP’s temperature and precipitation projections to protect critical infrastructure and build in climate-smart ways.

Sonoma County relied on the partnership to predict water deficits until the next century. That information will help the county manage its water supply.

The partnership grew out of the Obama administration’s Climate Data Initiative and involves the best talent from within and outside of government, Stofan said. Partners include Microsoft, Google, Amazon Web Services, NASA, the World Resources Institute and data design firm Vizzuality.

Governments too are taking note: 22 countries, including the United States, Bangladesh, Mexico, Germany, Kenya and Japan, signed the Joint Declaration on Harnessing the Data Revolution for Climate Resilience, to make data tools as effective and inclusive as possible.

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