NASA’s Climate Change Contest Looking for Data Apps | TechWell

NASA’s Climate Change Contest Looking for Data Apps

Global warming, shrinking ice sheets, ocean acidification, prolonged droughts, changing rain, and snow patterns. Climate change is widely recognized as THE major environmental problem facing the globe. Cosmologist Stephen Hawking is reported to have said that climate change is one of the greatest threats facing mankind and the future of the world, referring to it as a disaster such as a nuclear war.

Can a citizen scientist help solve climate change? Or help us better understand it? To encourage developers to come up with new ideas, NASA and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a scientific agency that researches the Earth’s conditions and problems, announced a contest with more than $35,000 in prizes. The Climate Resilience Data Challenge, conducted through the NASA Tournament Lab, a partnership with Harvard University hosted on Appirio/Topcoder, began December 15, 2014 and runs through March 2015.

NASA is looking for applications using the vast amounts of climate-related government research data that’s available. As part of the endeavor, the federal government has released new datasets on water and ecosystems on, as well as geospatial mapping tools to enable users to overlay and visualize the data. 

The challenge begins with an ideation stage for application that leverages the open climate data. The next step is storyboarding, where competitors conceptualize and design the best ideas. Finally, the concepts with the greatest potential will be prototyped.

How do we know climate change is real? The NASA global climate change website provides some astonishing data. For example:

Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century.

All three major global surface temperature reconstructions show that Earth has warmed since 1880. Most of this warming has occurred since the 1970s, with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.

For another look at the impact of climate change, the National Climate Assessment provides an overview of the impacts of climate change on every region of the United States.

For additional information on the Climate Resilience Data Challenge and to register, visit

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