AWS Public Sector Blog

NOAA and AWS expand commitment to increase access to environmental data

Tropical Systems Otis, Norma, Jose, Maria, Lee (from left to right) as captured by NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite on September 17th, 2017

Tropical Systems Otis, Norma, Jose, Maria, Lee (from left to right) as captured by NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite on September 17th, 2017.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced it is expanding its collaboration with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to make environmental data easier to access and use. A new agreement with NOAA builds upon the work started when AWS first collaborated with NOAA on the Big Data Project in 2015. AWS continues to be committed to helping NOAA make their world-class data open and available on AWS. Users will now be able to access new, authoritative NOAA data within AWS without needing to download and store their own copies. This allows researchers and entrepreneurs to deploy compute resources on-demand in the cloud and perform analysis quickly and efficiently and it makes it less expensive for researchers to ask more questions and experiment more easily.

Our customers have done incredible things with easier access to NOAA’s data on AWS. When NOAA’s NEXRAD weather radar data became available on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) in 2015, Climate Corporation reduced project timelines by several months. NOAA estimates that making NEXRAD data available on Amazon S3 led to a 2.3x increase in usage of NEXRAD data. Last year, researchers at Cornell University credited the NEXRAD data on AWS with allowing them to perform the “first-ever national bird count using weather radar,” tracking migration patterns of 4 billion birds.

Making NOAA’s GOES weather satellite data available on AWS also accelerated research and innovation. Climate researchers at North Carolina State University’s North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies used NOAA’s GOES satellite data on AWS to perform processing tasks up to 50 times faster on AWS than before. Solcast, a global solar forecasting and solar irradiance data modelling company, uses GOES data on AWS to provide global solar energy forecasts to customers on six continents. At the American Geophysical Union Fall meeting earlier this month, NASA researchers presented a method to use GOES data on AWS to “produce an active fire map every 5 minutes over the conterminous US.” Open source, large-scale geospatial processing tools like Pangeo have been used on top of NOAA’s National Water Model data, speeding up processing times and reducing time to insights.

NOAA’s data is also useful to Amazon itself. In September, Amazon announced The Climate Pledge, a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2040 — meeting the Paris Agreement 10 years early. As a part of that announcement, Amazon highlighted the importance of NOAA’s data to achieve its goals. This data is made available to Amazon teams through the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative (ASDI), a global and authoritative source for open sourced weather, climate, and sustainability data, which is a collaboration between the AWS Open Data team and Amazon Sustainability. This data, together with AWS analytical tools, is enabling cutting-edge scientific work and helping Amazon raise the bar for customers. For example, by using the NOAA weather data available in ASDI, Amazon transportation teams have been able to better predict how weather-related events (snowstorms, floods, heatwaves, etc.) impact customer package deliveries and provided customers with more accurate delivery estimates as a result. The AWS infrastructure team also leverages weather data from ASDI to better assess the impact of weather on AWS data centers. We are developing a robust tool for assessing and managing weather and climate-related risks for our assets, people, and operations. Our ultimate goal is to enable customers and suppliers to use the tools we are developing in-house to improve climate resilience.

We are honored to work with NOAA on this critical work to help us better understand our world. We look forward to seeing what breakthroughs our customers will achieve with access to more NOAA data on AWS.

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