AWS Public Sector Blog

NASA and ASDI announce no-cost access to important climate dataset on the AWS Cloud

According to NASA, “The effects of human-caused global warming are happening now, are irreversible on the timescale of people alive today, and will worsen in the decades to come.” Data is core to understanding and managing those effects, but most of the needed datasets are large and require powerful and expensive computers to store and analyze them, preventing many to access those resources.

As part of the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative (ASDI), we invited Manil Maskey, senior research scientist and project manager at NASA, to share how his agency is working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help democratize access to critical climate data for assessing and managing the impacts of climate change.

Assessing and managing the impacts of climate change require a lot of data

The climate is changing and we are already seeing effects that scientists predicted, such as the loss of sea ice, melting glaciers and ice sheets, sea level rise, and more intense heat waves. Scientists predict global temperature increases from human-made greenhouse gases will continue. Severe weather-related damage will also increase and intensify.

Assessing and managing the impacts of climate change require data—a lot of data. We need data to assess the present baseline of the planet: How much carbon dioxide (CO2) is currently in the atmosphere? What is the global temperature of the planet? How are things changing? Moreover, data is required to help us understand how climate-related hazards like floods, droughts and hurricanes have changed throughout history and how they are expected to change in the future. Are heatwaves going to happen more frequently and more intensively? If so, where will we see the largest changes?

To support this process, we need access to authoritative and reliable data that helps us understand what the future climate may look like. That is where climate projections play a critical role. These are generated by scientists who use large global circulations models to simulate the weather conditions in the future, given our understanding of the physical processes governing the weather and considering future scenarios for the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Climate projections are a tool that help us anticipate changes in the climate and build strategies to adapt to those possible changes.

NASA Earth Exchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections data helps us look into the future

To assist the science community in conducting studies of climate change impacts at local to regional scales, NASA created the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) Global Daily Downscaled Projections (GDDP) dataset, or NEX-GDDP-CMIP6. This dataset is expected to enhance public understanding of possible future climate patterns at the spatial scale of individual towns, cities, and watersheds. It provides a set of global, high resolution, bias-corrected climate change projections that can be used to evaluate climate change impacts on processes that are sensitive to finer-scale climate gradients and the effects of local topography on climate conditions.

The NEX-GDDP-CMIP6 dataset is comprised of global downscaled climate scenarios derived from the General Circulation Model (GCM) runs conducted under the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) and across two of the four “Tier 1” greenhouse gas emissions scenarios known as Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs). The CMIP6 GCM runs were developed in support of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR6). This dataset includes downscaled projections from ScenarioMIP model runs for which daily scenarios were produced and distributed through the Earth System Grid Federation.

Through a collaboration between NASA and the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative (ASDI), under the NASA-AWS Space Act Agreement, the NEX-GDDP-CMIP6 dataset is now publicly available on the AWS Cloud and accessible at no cost. Anyone can now analyze the data in the cloud environment without having to secure the storage and compute to host their own copy of the data. To access the NEX-CDDP-CMIP6 data on AWS, both in NETCDF or Cloud-Optimized GeoTiff (COG) formats, visit the Registry of Open Data on AWS. Those interested in working with the data on the AWS Cloud are encouraged to apply for ASDI cloud grants.

Note that this dataset is intended for use in scientific research only, and use of this dataset for other purposes, such as commercial applications, and engineering or design studies is not recommended without consultation with a qualified expert. Users are encouraged to review the data set technote. Community feedback to improve and validate the dataset for modeling usage is appreciated.

Generating and making this dataset available to the public required a large team of scientists, data managers, technologists, and many others. The NEX-GDDP-CMIP6 data set was produced by Bridget Thrasher of BAERI (Bay Area Environmental Research Institute). The NEX and NASA Center for Climate Simulations teams curated the data; the NASA High-End Computing program provided the computing resource; and the NASA Earth Science Data Systems program established and manages the Space Act Agreement with AWS, which enabled the migration of this dataset to the cloud.

Visit the ASDI main page to learn more. Explore other datasets hosted in the ASDI Data Catalog. If you are interested in hosting your data on AWS, consider exploring the AWS Open Data Sponsorship Program.

Read more about ASDI on the AWS Public Sector Blog:

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Dr. Manil Maskey

Dr. Manil Maskey

Dr. Manil Maskey is a senior research scientist and project manager at NASA. He leads the advanced concepts team for the Inter-Agency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) and data system evolution project Visualization, Exploration, and Data Analysis (VEDA), where he is developing innovative data systems and data-driven solutions to challenging science problems. Dr. Maskey also leads the NASA Science Mission Directorate’s Artificial Intelligence Team as part of the open science initiative. Dr. Maskey’s career spans over 22 years in academia, industry, and government. During that time, he has focused on research and application projects in the area of data systems, cloud computing, machine learning, computer vision, and visualization.

Ana Pinheiro Privette

Ana Pinheiro Privette

Dr. Ana Pinheiro Privette is the Head for Sustainability for AWS Impact Computing, and the Global Lead for the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative (ASDI). ASDI seeks to accelerate sustainability research and innovation by minimizing the cost and time required to acquire and analyze large sustainability datasets. Ana was trained as an environmental engineer and as an earth scientist at the New University of Lisbon (Portugal) and at MIT. She spent most of her career as a research scientist at NASA and NOAA. Later, Ana worked on the US National Climate Assessment (NCA) focusing on bringing more transparency and traceability of the data sources supporting this climate report, and led projects for the White House climate portfolio, including the Obama Climate Data Initiative (CDI) and the Partnership for Resilience and Preparedness (PREP).