“Climate Explorer”: The National Climate Resilience Toolkit Interactive Mapping and Graph Application

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 8:30 AM
131C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
James F. Fox, Univ. of North Carolina Asheville, Asheville, NC; and J. G. Dobson, M. Phillips, and J. M. Hicks

Decision makers within local communities as well as the private sector need quick, responsive, scalable, and precise information pertaining to weather, water, climate, and societal factors, and they need this information available via focused apps that can be accessed on desktop and mobile devices. Much of this data exists within our nation's many federal, state, and local agencies, as well as other data providers, but it is not readily available to those that may only need snapshots of key pieces of the information in an intuitive environment. Currently, there are some apps and other web services that do deliver these types of solutions, but they are often data provider-generated and do not take into account the client and user needs. Additionally, they do not always follow conventional software protocols and interoperability standards.

The University of North Carolina at Asheville's National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) has developed the “Climate Explorer” in conjunction with NOAA in response to the White House Climate Data Initiative's Climate Resilient Toolkit. By interacting with the President's Climate Advisory board, we were able to rapidly prototype a tool and respond to user feedback. The Climate Explorer ingests a variety of related data as web mapping services (WMS) and other open data formats and then provides this information as a geospatial app through an interactive map and set of graphs that can be accessed on any device through a web connection. This allows users to see not just spatial map data, but also historical time series data to understand trends and normals, allowing for analysis on the impact of climate events with demographic, infrastructure and economic data. Climate Explorer works by downloading the history of data, parses out temperature and precipitation variables, derives a cumulative year-to-date precipitation product, catalogs the data by station, and updates the data nightly, thus filtering through terabytes of historical data and retrieving the most relevant data for the decision at hand. Finally, Climate Explorer's web interface provides a tool that the nation can use to directly connect climate and non-climate datasets to case studies that highlight ways that communities can build resilience.