Climate Data Overload: Managing All That Data

Monitoring the climate is important work. Only with decades of surface temperature values and sea level measurements is it possible to accurately model climate change. Even more measurements are needed to understand current and potential impacts from shifting climates. Ocean and atmospheric CO2 levels, algal blooms, volcanic aerosols, ozone depletion, animal and plant species migration, soil moisture, glacier and polar ice coverage, rainforest deforestation, desertification, and more, all contribute to the overall assessment of climate and climate change impacts.

All of this data forms the foundation of every climate model in existence. If you decided to go build a climate model, you would likely find the mass of data overwhelming. Where should you start? Which instruments, what years, what geographic area, which characteristics? The difference of a 1°C temperature rise between models may result from the subtlest of differences in data inputs, but produces dramatically different assessments of the future.

INNOVIM took on this challenge. Working with the NASA Center for Climate Simulation, we developed a Data Management System (DMS) that would streamline and standardize access to such data for NASA scientists and researchers around the world. Over five years, we worked across industry groups and three federal agencies to get everyone on the same page.

Now, if you are a researcher looking for climate data to support your work, you can get it all in one format, all in one place. What’s more, all the other climate scientists have access to exactly the same information.

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