Secretary Jewell Announces New Tools to Help Communities Build Resilience to Climate Change

Office of the Secretary

As Part of Climate Action Plan, Secretary Highlights New Dataset Hubs, Other Ecosystem Tools and Global Map at International ACES Conference

Last edited 4/26/2016

WASHINGTON, DC — Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced the release of two new hubs of datasets that are part of the Climate Data Initiative (CDI), a key feature of President Obama's Climate Action Plan to help local and state leaders build greater community resilience in the face of climate change. Jewell announced that hundreds of datasets from numerous federal departments and agencies have been consolidated into two thematic CDI data hubs for “Ecosystem Vulnerability” and “Water,” and are now available online to the public for free.

Jewell also showcased two powerful new data tools—EcoINFORMA and the Global Ecosystems Map—to a crowd of more than 500 scientists, managers and government officials from 30 countries at the ACES (A Community on Ecosystem Services) conference.

“By unleashing the power of our vast and open data resources, the Climate Data Initiative helps spark private sector innovation and will leverage resources for those on the front lines who are dealing with climate change,” said Secretary Jewell. “We are pooling into one place data from across the federal government to make it more accessible to the public and we hope our efforts will inspire other countries to follow suit.”

Two additional themes, “Coastal Flooding” and “Food Resilience,” were released earlier this year after the launch of the CDI in March.

The Obama Administration also is calling on private industry innovators to use the data to build tools that will make America's communities more resilient to climate change. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy today also released private sector commitments to support the CDI, which can be found HERE.

The Ecosystem Vulnerability and Water data themes announced by Jewell feature datasets from numerous departments and agencies, among them the U.S. Department of the Interior's Geological Survey (USGS) and Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Agriculture, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

These theme-based collections are designed to help data innovators in developing additional information and tools to better understand climate change impacts on changing oceans, wildland fires, invasive species, biodiversity and carbon sequestration as well as impacts on the quantity and quality of water resources and the nature of water hazards like droughts and floods.

“USGS science has contributed to scores of datasets within the Climate Data Initiative that enable specialists to take a fresh look into a modeled future in order to assess the impacts of a changing climate,” said Suzette Kimball, USGS Acting Director. “These convenient tools provide experts with critical data-access capabilities and data-investigation methods to better analyze climate-related information.”

Ecosystem Vulnerability Theme:

Two new major tools for integrating ecosystem data were announced at the conference as stand-alone products that will become integral components of the Ecosystem Vulnerability CDI theme: EcoINFORMA and the Global Ecosystems Map.

EcoINFORMA is a data tool designed to facilitate assessments of the impact of climate change, pollution and other stressors on ecosystems, biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as assessments of management responses to these stressors. Elements of EcoINFORMA include an open data catalog that can be used by researchers and innovators to create new products. A geospatial data viewer can be queried with questions such as “Where are the best places to fish in my area?” and “What's the relation of land use change to biodiversity and other ecosystem services in my state?”

“EcoINFORMA enables users to more easily visualize and analyze key datasets relevant to ecosystems research and how these environmental services, these ‘gifts from nature', benefit human wellbeing,” said Barbara Schaal, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis and Member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). “This new platform is directly responsive to recommendations made in PCAST's “Sustaining Environmental Capital” report and is an important step toward empowering communities across the nation with the tools and information needed to boost resilience and plan for the future.”

The new Global Ecosystems Map comprehensively displays the ecological integration of global bioclimate regions, global land forms, global geology and global land cover at 250-meter spatial resolution worldwide. The previous standard was a coarse 1-km resolution. Developed collaboratively between USGS and Esri, the map was commissioned by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) as part of the Global Earth Observations Systems of Systems (GEOSS) intergovernmental protocol.

The Ecosystem Vulnerability theme also will feature newly added and highly anticipated LandCarbon datasets. The LandCarbon datasets help to better understand carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas fluxes in and out of ecosystems related to land use.

Water Theme:

The CDI improves the accessibility of government records of stream flow, groundwater levels and water quality spanning more than a century and estimated water use since 1950. These data and information resources are vital to building resilience across our water resources in a changing climate.

USGS-contributed water datasets include the National Water Information System, the leading source of high frequency stream flow, water quality, groundwater and water use data for the nation. It features water-resources data collected by USGS at approximately 1.5 million sites in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Another key resource is the NOAA National Climatic Data Center's holdings of historical precipitation and other climate drivers relevant to the water cycle.

In addition, base map data such as the USGS National Hydrography Dataset and 3D Elevation Program, land cover, soils and other data are provided along with models such as the NASA North American Land Data Assimilation System, which estimates soil moisture and other water variables.

Click HERE to read a blog post by White House OSTP Director Doctor John Holdren on today's announcement.