NASA has released a dataset setting out how rainfall and temperature patterns are likely to change in the coming decades. The data covers 21 climate models, mapping how our environment could change due to growing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The information for the dataset was compiled as part of the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) – a collaborative analytical platform that harnesses the power of state-of-the-art supercomputing, combining it with NASA remote-sensing data to provide scientists with direct access to huge pools of data. Essentially, the idea is to help scientists better understand and make contingency plans for the multiple risks presented by changes to the climate, from drought and floods, to heat waves and agricultural issues.
The dataset itself is available to the public, allowing users to view the potential environmental changes on a daily timescale and in great detail – from globally down to individual towns and cities. The climate projections provide a view of future precipitation and temperature patterns at a 25 km (15.5 mile) resolution, spanning the years 1950 to 2100.
To build the tool, NASA combined real world historical measurements with climate simulation data from the international Fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project – a global, collaborative effort to study and better understand our changing climate. The predictive models range from "business as usual" scenarios up to worst-case conditions with hugely elevated greenhouse gas emissions.
The agency believes that the dataset will provide scientists and planners with a much better understanding of the risks facing our fragile world.
"NASA is in the business of taking what we’ve learned about our planet from space and creating new products that help us all safeguard our future," said NASA scientist Ellen Stofan. "With this new global dataset, people around the world have a valuable new tool to use in planning how to cope with a warming planet."
The dataset can be downloaded here.