Finding the Money for Water Infrastructure

Read the full story in Governing.

Enhancing the nation’s water infrastructure remains a challenge for public officials as they balance the need for improvements against constrained budgets. The recently enacted federal Water Resources Reform and Development Act has the potential to advance the nation’s water infrastructure by streamlining approvals for environmental reviews of projects, creating a pilot program to explore the use of public-private partnerships by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and making it easier to leverage private-sector investments to augment public funding.

As officials contemplate how they will finance water infrastructure improvements, one provision in the law, the newly created Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program, is of particular interest.

10 Marine Debris Prevention Partnerships Launched

Read the full post at the Marine Debris Blog.

For the past year, our education and outreach partners across the country have inspired thousands of people of all ages to be better ocean stewards. They have carried the message that prevention is key to solving the marine debris problem, through projects such as museum exhibits, curriculum development, outreach to teens, teacher workshops, dockside education, hands-on cleanups and science for children.

This year, 10 additional groups across the country received funding through the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Prevention through Education and Outreach opportunity to partner with us on new initiatives. The MDP has provided $500,000 to launch partnership projects ranging from education for fishers to social marketing and awareness campaigns.

Illinois DCEO Solar and Wind Rebate Program is now open

Guidelines and application are available here. All applications must be submitted, without exception, on the new forms for Fiscal Year 2015 and must be filled out completely and signed and dated by both the applicant and the installer/project manager. Any applications received under previous application forms will be rejected.

DCEO will accept applications for the random selection until October 10th, 2014. Applications will be assigned a number as they are received, and there will a pre-selected list of random numbers that will be used as the order we will consider applications. DCEO will keep moving down the list of applications based on the random numbers list until all rebate funds have been allocated. The remaining applications will be on a waiting list and will be considered (again, based on the random number list) as projects are cancelled or if additional funds become available.

DCEO is continuing to require that the application be submitted by the applicant. While the installer/developer may assist in filling out application and organizing the required documents, the application cannot be sent to us by the installer.

All solar PV and wind energy systems, except those that are self-installed, must be installed by a certified distributed generation installer. (Illinois Commerce Commission’s certified list is available at DCEO will not approve an application until it can be confirmed that the installer has been certified by the ICC.

The Final Documentation Checklist (Section 4.2 and Appendix C of new guidelines) has also been updated to require that applicants provide the approved interconnection application or the Certificate of Completion from the utility (if applicable).

DCEO prefers that applications be submitted via email (, though applications may be sent through regular mail. However, please do not submit both ways – just need one copy of the application. If you send applications by email, you will receive a response that your application has been received.

Approximately $2.5 million has been allocated to the rebate program this fiscal year.

University of Illinois Extension Announces Successful Awards

University of Illinois Extension recently announced awards for six collaborative projects, totaling over $1.2 million, to interdisciplinary teams of faculty and staff. The awards were part of the University of Illinois Extension and Outreach Initiative, a special partnership between U of I Extension, the Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES), and the Office of the Provost. The six awards were selected from a pool of 71 pre-proposals from 16 different campus units.

“We were very pleased with the number and quality of the proposals we received from across campus in response to this initiative,” said Robert Hauser, Dean of ACES. “The six projects moving forward are outstanding examples of the impact and value that extension and outreach can provide to a variety of disciplines throughout the University.”

University of Illinois Extension is the flagship outreach arm of the University. Extension’s statewide network of educators and county-based offices provide programming in economic development, health and nutrition, agriculture and natural resources, and youth development. Traditionally, most Extension programs are related to departments within the College of ACES. This Extension and Outreach Initiative was aimed at establishing programs with departments and units elsewhere on campus.

Principal investigators and project titles:

  • Jon Gant, Library of Information Science and Illinois Informatics Institute, Graduate School of Library and Information Science. “Enhancing Economic Development in Illinois with Digital Tech Hub Creativity Studios.”
  • Kevin Hamilton, Department of Art and Design, Fine and Applied Arts. “Designing for Health in Central Illinois.”
  • Lenny Pitt, Department of Computer Science, College of Engineering. “4-H Computing Connections.”
  • Aric Rindfleisch, College of Business. “Marketplace Literacy and 3-D Printing: Enabling Economic Development for Impoverished Communities.”
  • Kim Sheahan, Spurlock Museum, Liberal Arts and Sciences. “An Artifact Speaks.”
  • Wei Zheng, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, Prairie Research Institute. “Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products: Extending Knowledge and Mitigation Strategies.”

Hauser explained that the Initiative was intended to expand Extension’s research base across the Urbana campus, raise awareness of Extension among faculty and stakeholders, and advance the University’s land grant mission through new, innovative partnerships.

“This year we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Smith Lever Act, the federal legislation that launched Cooperative Extension at Land Grant institutions nationwide,” Hauser said. “We are working to broaden our approach to provide research-based information from the whole University.”

For more information about University of Illinois Extension, visit University of Illinois Extension provides educational programs and research-based information to help Illinois residents improve their quality of life, develop skills and solve problems.

NCR-SARE Announces 2015 Call for Research and Education Preproposals

The 2015 NCR-SARE Research and Education Grant Program Call for Preproposals is now available online.

NCR-SARE’s Research and Education (R&E) program supports sustainable agriculture innovators with competitive research and education grants. Individual grants range from $10,000 to $200,000. NCR-SARE expects to fund about seven to ten projects in the twelve-state North Central Region.

NCR-SARE will be accepting online submissions for the Research and Education Grant Program using our online submission system. More information about the online submission system can be found in the call for proposals.  The deadline for Research and Education Program preproposals is October 23, 2014.

NCR-SARE administers each of its grant programs with specific priorities, audiences, and timelines. The focus for each of the NCR-SARE grant programs is on research and education. Funding considerations are made based on the relevance and potential of the project to increase the sustainability of agriculture in the region, as well as how well the applicant articulates the research and education components of their sustainable agriculture grant proposals.

NCR-SARE’s Administrative Council (AC) members decide which projects will receive SARE funds. The AC includes a diverse mix of agricultural stakeholders in the region. Council members hail from regional farms and ranches, the Cooperative Extension Service, universities, and nonprofit organizations. In addition, regional representatives of the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and NCR agribusinesses, state agencies, and foundations sit at the table to distribute grant money.

For questions or additional information regarding the R&E Grant Program, contact Beth Nelson.

Beth Nelson, Ph.D.
Regional Coordinator (Chapter 1) and Director of Research and Education Programs
120 BAE, University of Minnesota
1390 Eckles Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108
Phone: 612-626-4436
Fax: 612-626-3132

NCR-SARE Announces 2015 Call for Partnership Grant Proposals

The 2015 NCR-SARE Partnership Grant Program Call for Proposals is now available.

NCR-SARE’s new Partnership Grant program is intended to foster cooperation between agriculture professionals and small groups of farmers and ranchers to catalyze on-farm research, demonstration, and education activities related to sustainable agriculture.

Individual grants are limited to $30,000. For the current year funding of the Partnership Grant Program, up to $200,000 of the partnership grant pool of $340,000 in funds is available for projects focused on cover crops and soil health. For consideration under the cover crops and soil health funding, applicants are asked to use cover crops and/or soil health in their project title and to make the topic of cover crops and/or soil health the main focus of the application. Other criteria for these applications remain the same. This special request for proposals on cover crops and soil health is made possible by a match of funds between NCR-SARE and the Harvest the Potential program of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. For the remaining funds of $140,000 or more, other project topics appropriate to the NCR-SARE program will be considered for funding.

NCR-SARE will be accepting online submissions for the Partnership Grant Program using our online submission system. More information about the online submission system can be found in the call for proposals.  The deadline for Partnership Program proposals is October 30, 2014.

NCR-SARE administers each of its grant programs with specific priorities, audiences, and timelines. The focus for each of the NCR-SARE grant programs is on research and education. Funding considerations are made based on the relevance and potential of the project to increase the sustainability of agriculture in the region, as well as how well the applicant articulates the research and education components of their sustainable agriculture grant proposals.

NCR-SARE’s Administrative Council (AC) members decide which projects will receive SARE funds. The AC includes a diverse mix of agricultural stakeholders in the region. Council members hail from regional farms and ranches, the Cooperative Extension Service, universities, and nonprofit organizations. In addition, regional representatives of the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and NCR agribusinesses, state agencies, and foundations sit at the table to distribute grant money.

For questions or additional information regarding the Partnership Grant Program, contact Beth Nelson or Rob Myers.

Beth Nelson, Ph.D.
Regional Coordinator (Chapter 1) and Director of Research and Education Programs
120 BAE, University of Minnesota
1390 Eckles Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108
Phone: 612-626-4436
Fax: 612-626-3132

Rob Myers, Ph.D.
Regional Coordinator (Chapter 3) and Director of Professional Development (Extension) Programs
University of Missouri
238 Ag Engineering Bldg.
Columbia, MO 65211
Office phone: 573-882-1547
Fax: 573-884-5650

Empowering America’s Agricultural Sector and Strengthening Food Resilience through the President’s Climate Data Initiative

“My administration will work with tech innovators and launch new challenges under our Climate Data Initiative, focused initially on rising sea levels and their impact on the coasts, but ultimately focused on how all these changes in weather patterns are going to have an impact up and down the United States…and how do we start preparing for that.” – President Obama, remarks on the California Drought, February 14, 2014.

In March 2014, the Obama Administration unveiled the Climate Data Initiative—a key deliverable of the President’s Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution in America, prepare communities for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address this global challenge. The Climate Data Initiative leverages the Federal Government’s vast and open data resources to stimulate the kinds of innovation and entrepreneurship that can empower America’s communities and businesses to take action against climate change and prepare for the future.

Today, building on the Climate Data Initiative’s initial focus on coastal resilience, the Obama Administration is unveiling the Initiative’s “Food Resilience” theme, aimed at empowering America’s agricultural sector and strengthening the resilience of the global food system in a changing climate.

The National Climate Assessment, released in May, 2014, confirms that climate disruptions to agriculture have been increasing, are projected to become more severe over this century, and that climate-change effects on agriculture will have consequences for food security, both nationally and globally, through changes in crop yields and food prices, as well as effects on food processing, storage, transportation, and retailing.

That’s why the Obama Administration is working to connect farmers, food distributors, and agricultural businesses with the data, tools, and information they need to understand how climate change impacts—such as more intense heat waves, heavier downpours, and severe droughts and wildfires out westare affecting their operations today and steps they can take to both prepare for and help fight climate change.

To continue momentum under the Climate Data Initiative, the Obama Administration is today renewing the President’s call to America’s private-sector innovators to leverage open government data and other resources to build tools that will make the U.S. and global food systems more resilient against the impacts of climate change. In response to this call, today’s launch includes a number of commitments by Federal agencies and private-sector collaborators to combat climate change and support food resilience through data-driven innovation.

Administration Commitments: 

  • Convening Agriculture and Technology Leaders at the White House. Today, Senior Obama Administration officials are meeting at the White House with representatives of leading food, agriculture and technology businesses to discuss ways these companies are leveraging open government data, related information tools, and other innovations to improve the resilience of the U.S. and global food system and reduce the contributions of food production to climate change.
  • New Features on The Obama Administration is today unveiling an expanded to include new pages and features that make data about the risks of climate change to food production, supply, nutrition, and security more open and accessible to innovators, entrepreneurs, and researchers. Through a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and other Federal agency partners, hundreds of datasets, web services, and tools on these topics and more are being made accessible through, including data from the Census of Agriculture, current and historical data on production, supply, and distribution of agricultural products, and data on climate-change-related risks such as storms, pests, and drought. The Administration is also expanding to include datasets from climate models, projecting potential future climate impacts.
  • Hosting Agriculture-Innovation Workshops. The Obama Administration will host and participate in a series of innovation workshops focused on data-driven innovation at the nexus of climate-change and agriculture, including:
    • On July 30, USDA will host two innovation workshops in Washington, DC, one with young and beginning farmers and another with food distributors, to spur the development of creative information-technology tools that can help farmers and those in the food supply chain to prepare for climate-change impacts.
    • On August 1, USDA and NYU’s Governance Lab (GovLab) will host an Open Data event in Washington, DC, focused on food resilience and climate change, as well as preparedness for food emergencies. The event will encourage dialogue between government agencies and the businesses and organizations that use their data, in support of the goals of the Climate Data Initiative.
    • On August 5, concurrent with the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Government, IBM, and partners of the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative will host a data-innovation event focused on developing technological innovations based on open data that can help address global food security and nutrition in Africa.

Private-Sector Commitments:

  • Principles for Responsible Investment. The United-Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) has formed an investor group made up of Rockefeller & Co. and five European-based institutional investors (PGGM, Aberdeen Asset Management, Hermes, MN, and Nordea) to address the risks from climate change to companies with agricultural supply chains – including in the food, beverage, and apparel sectors. Using data from the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Water Risk Filter mapping tool and Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ (PwC) ESCHER model, the investor group will engage approximately 50 major companies in constructive dialogue to increase resilience to water risks and foster more informed investment decision-making. PRI and the investor group are launching an Investor Guidance Document and issuing a call to action to support the effort to PRI’s 1260 global signatories representing more than $45 trillion USD in assets.
  • Microsoft. In support of the President’s Climate Data Initiative’s, Microsoft and USDA will co-host a series of workshops, webinars, and an app-athon aimed at demonstrating the value of open-data and data-driven tools to boost climate preparedness and resilience in the agricultural sector. Microsoft and USDA will also jointly launch a climate-change-focused Innovation Challenge to inspire the development of new tools and services that harness data available via, as well as an initial collection of USDA datasets that will be made available through Microsoft’s Azure Marketplace. Microsoft Research will issue a special request for proposals focused on food resilience and climate change and grant 12 months of free cloud-computing resources to 20 awardees whose proposals are submitted by Sept. 15, 2014 through the Azure for Research program.
  • Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the U.S. dairy industry is today committing to advance a series of science-based efforts, including additional research to understand and optimize dairy’s role in a resilient, efficient, and sustainable food system, as well as testing and piloting four new Farm Smart modules—energy, feed, nutrient, and herd management—by the end of 2014.  Farm Smart is a data-driven online tool that helps dairy farmers assess their farm’s environmental footprint; explore the potential environmental value and cost-effectiveness of on-farm innovations; and communicate progress.
  • The U.S. Water Partnership. Recognizing that open data can help inform actions to meet the growing water crisis in regions at home and abroad, the U.S. Water Partnership (USWP) will deploy a web-based portal called “H2InfO” during World Water Week on September 2, 2014, to increase access to high quality US-based water- and drought- information resources. In addition, the U.S. Water Partnership will develop a virtual community of practice to share data, experiences, lessons, and best practices and will convene an in-person technical dialogue for community members and other key public and private stakeholders to create a two-way exchange of expertise on drought preparedness and water resilience.
  • IBM. IBM is announcing an expansion of its philanthropic World Community Grid program, which enables members of the public to donate their computer or mobile device’s unused computing power to scientists. The expansion will provide scientists studying climate change topics including staple food crops and water management with free access to dedicated virtual supercomputing resources and a platform to engage the public on their research. Each researcher will have access to up to 100,000 years of computing time, a value of $60m in today’s costs. IBM is inviting researchers to submit project proposals and members of the public to donate their unused computing power to these efforts at
  • GoodCompanyVentures. During the summer of 2015, GoodCompanyVentures will launch Climate Ventures 2.0, a project to source, accelerate, and deploy entrepreneurial solutions to climate-change preparedness in collaboration with the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, the Impact Hub, and the MIT Climate CoLab.  Over a nine-month period, Climate Ventures 2.0 will provide mentoring, design consulting, and access to capital for 10 high-potential teams working on ongoing climate data innovation challenges, such as those issued by NASA and MIT.  Climate Ventures 2.0 will focus on innovations that leverage scientific and government data to enhance climate change preparedness in areas such as food security, agriculture, flood, and drought.
  • The Coca-Cola Company. To help reduce the company’s environmental footprint across its value chain, the Coca-Cola Company is committing to rapidly expand the application of the Field-to-Market program and its data-driven tool to quantify water use, fertilizer use, energy use, greenhouse emissions and more. By the end of 2014, Coca-Cola will launch major initiatives with two of its four leading suppliers to implement this commitment. By the end of 2015, Coca-Cola will aim to engage farmers representing 250,000 acres, and by 2020, up to 1 million acres—equating to roughly 50% of the company’s global corn supply.
  • World Wildlife Fund. In support of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF’s) collaboration with the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), WWF is combining detailed agricultural, water, and economic data from its Water Risk Filter to help the PRI’s 1000+ signatories better assess and manage water risks in the agro-commodity supply chains of portfolio companies. WWF will work with leading technology partners to make public and leverage detailed datasets that include more than 15,000 agricultural-crop/water-basin combinations in order to empower industry, financiers, and policy-makers as they work to strengthen global water stewardship, food security, and climate resilience.
  • The Agricultural Model Intercomparison & Improvement Program and the Center for Integrated Modeling of Sustainable Agriculture and Nutrition Security. The Agricultural Model Intercomparison & Improvement Program (AgMIP) and the Center for Integrated Modeling of Sustainable Agriculture and Nutrition Security (CIMSANS), in partnership with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), are announcing a new public-private partnership on open data and open-source code modeling to enhance the climate-resilience of food systems. The new partnership will secure the resources and expertise necessary to evaluate seven novel nutrition and sustainability metrics of global food systems, including all of the world’s important staple and non-staple foods, through the year 2050.
  • Amazon Web Services. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is today launching the Amazon Climate Research Grant program and a call for proposals designed to drive innovative climate-change research with a focus on computational analysis. In early September 2014, AWS will award grants of free access to supercomputing resources through Amazon EC2 Spot Instances. By providing grants totaling 50 million core hours, AWS is enabling researchers to accelerate research that can result in an improved understanding of the scope and effects of climate change, and analyses that could suggest potential mitigating actions. Early results of the program will publish in November 2014. Expanding upon AWS’s participation in the Open NASA Earth eXchange (NEX), this program will also accelerate the development of open climate data and software resources. Details can be found here.
  • National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center at the University of Maryland. The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) at the University of Maryland is committing to fund 25 early-career scholars to address critical, actionable research questions on the resilience of food systems to climate change. Advanced Ph.D. students and scholars fewer than two years post-Ph.D. with relevant interests will be invited to apply through an open call. Successful candidates will participate in workshops in which SESYNC and USDA computational experts guide participants in a highly interactive and dynamic process of data discovery, analysis, and visualization, and will be invited to submit proposals for interdisciplinary team projects. SESYNC will fund up to six teams as well as a postdoctoral fellow with expertise in food systems research to undertake and help coordinate research for the program.
  • PepsiCo. PepsiCo is announcing the installation of a 1.7 megawatt solar photovoltaic system designed to supply 3.3 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy for the company’s Gatorade manufacturing operations in Tolleson, Arizona.  Over the 25 year life of the project, this initiative will prevent the release of approximately 50,000 tons of carbon and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. PepsiCo will use data from this solar project to help inform future solar installations and projects as the company works to meet its goal of achieving an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Esri. Esri will work with USDA, GEOGLAM, CGIAR and others to expose and unlock authoritative data as live data feeds across dimensions of agricultural production, risk and trade.  In the fall of 2014, Esri will host an Executive White Boarding session to target the development of common information products (maps, apps and templates) needed to address specific needs in the domain of climate, society, and agriculture.  
  • Michigan Agri-Business Association. In August 2014, the Michigan Agri-Business Association will launch a publicly-available web-based mapping tool for use by the state’s agriculture sector. This platform will incorporate Federal, state, and local data that could prove useful to farmers, rural businesses, conservationists and economic development professionals. Resulting maps will aggregate soil, water, meteorological and infrastructure GIS data that can be compared and visualized to meet the needs of a particular project. It is anticipated that this tool will be particularly useful for planning future agricultural activities in response to climate change in Michigan.
  • Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Columbia University Earth Institute. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network is announcing a new initiative on Healthy and Sustainable Diets that will include efforts to build datasets that enable the analysis of food and nutrition security achievements across landscape-level scenarios and rural livelihoods. The Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development (CGSD) in Columbia’s Earth Institute, as a partner in the Agriculture and Food Systems group of the Network, is committing to provide this initiative with tools, research, and policy support to address these challenges in a global context.
  • SWIIM System. SWIIM System, Ltd. will develop an application using USDA Quickstats data that will allow users to easily view trends in water use by irrigated agriculture as climate changes occur and as water transfers from agricultural to municipal and industrial (M&I) uses take place. This new application will allow users to explore the consequences of future climate- and water-use scenarios to water available for crop production, and will educate the user on effects of water transfer and climate change on irrigated agriculture on a localized basis. The application will be made available on the SWIIM client page and its parent website. Development is expected to commence in August 2014 and completed within approximately six months.
  • Nestle. Nestlé will review and expand the scope of its public commitments on climate change leadership (detailed in the Nestlé in Society report), setting greenhouse-gas reduction targets that are based upon science and incorporating both absolute-carbon and carbon-intensity aspects. Nestlé will also incorporate climate change provisions into its responsible sourcing & traceability program, will engage in further water stewardship programs, and will extend education and training within its Farmer Connect initiative regarding good farming practices and water stewardship. Nestlé’s nutritional profiling tool (which can be used to link nutritional value calculations to calculations of environmental impact) and related data will be made available outside Nestlé through the publication of algorithms for nutritional assessments in peer reviewed scientific journals, the sharing of data on Life Cycle Inventories, and other mechanisms. 
  • Rock and Wrap it Up. Rock and Wrap It Up! (RWU) is launching an updated Whole Earth Calculator, a simple mobile app that resides on a mobile-friendly website and can be used on both mobile and laptop/desktop devices. Using EPA datasets and based on information from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and USDA, the Whole Earth Calculator converts the total pounds of paper products and plastics that are diverted from landfills into the amount of carbon dioxide that is not produced as a result – and then sends this information to social media (Twitter).  The tool can also be used to convert total pounds of donated food into meal equivalents and total CO2-averted equivalents.
  • Monsanto. Monsanto is announcing that it will donate a multi-site/multi-year maize breeding trial dataset to open data portals maintained by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the Agricultural Model Intercomparison & Improvement Project (AgMIP). Opening these data will it make it possible for public- and private-sector scientists to improve models being used to understand how climate and water-availability changes will impact crop productivity and therefore food security. Monsanto is also partnering with a number of external scientists in the AgMIP community to improve one of the leading publicly available crop-growth simulation models (AgMaize).
  • HabitatSeven and Quandl: HabitatSeven is announcing a partnership with the data platform Quandl to combine Federal climate-impact data with private-sector commodity and supply-chain data. Through this partnership, visualization tools will be developed for private-sector decision makers, investors, and commodity traders to incorporate climate risks and opportunities into commodity prices and resilience strategies.
  • The Climate Corporation: The Climate Corporation has launched a free online and mobile service called Climate Basic that provides farmers with hyper-local weather information to help them identify the impact of recent and current weather conditions on their fields. To enable the development of additional data science driven tools and services to help farmers increase production to meet increasing global demand, the company helped found the Open Ag Data Alliance (OADA), an open source software project to ensure farmers have full data access across different agriculture technology platforms. The Climate Corporation is today committing resources to support OADA’s work, as well as code development to enable farmers to fully leverage their data. 
  • Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy at the University of Chicago. The Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy (RDCEP), a research center at the Computation Institute of the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, is announcing several new tools to expand access to the data and methods used by experts to understand climate change and its impacts. The RDCEP climate emulator, enables users to work in their own web browser with output data from state-of-the-art climate models that typically require powerful supercomputers. ATLAS, which will launch this fall, will enable users to explore climate impact data on global food security and land use. Additional web tools make up RDCEP’s FACE-IT platform, which will be adapted later this year for use by researchers in seven countries, including China, Nigeria, and India, to model and understand local climate risks and vulnerabilities in food supply, agriculture, and economics. Preliminary versions of these applications will be unveiled at the African Food Systems in the Information Age forum in Ibadan, Nigeria, on August 28-30, 2014.
  • Kellogg Company and University of Minnesota. The Global Landscapes Initiative at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment is committing to openly share data and maps that illustrate how climate change affects risks to major crops within the food system. In conjunction with this commitment, Kellogg Company is committing to use these agricultural data and climate-related maps to foster geographically relevant implementation in its global sourcing. Kellogg Company, the Global Landscape Initiative, and other partners will use climate data, research, and assessments to guide education and actions that help create efficient, adaptable, and sustainable supply chains, as well as identify information gaps and needs to improve the resilience of the agricultural sector to climate change.
  • American Red Cross and Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre: To better help communities in East and Southern Africa prepare for climate and weather related events, the American Red Cross and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre are committing to scale up the distribution and use of their participatory games to communicate risk information. This scale-up will bring Climate Centre game designers, trainers, and facilitators to more places served by American Red Cross in the developing world. It will focus initially on a river basin in East or Southern Africa and will help to ensure that communities are better prepared to respond to flood warnings. This experience will be documented and made publicly available on the Climate Centre website and the Global Disaster Preparedness Center website. 
  • Mars, Incorporated: Mars, Incorporated, will continue to make major investments in science, including in areas such as food safety and plant science, to create resilience across its agricultural supply chains, improve safety, quality, resource management, and yields. Mars, Inc. will also continue to invest in renewable energy resources. For example, the company has recently invested in a 200 megawatt wind farm in Lamesa, Texas that will provide energy equal to the needs of its North America offices and factories.
  • Walmart. Walmart is committing to the ongoing use of data to help set priorities for future actions to reduce greenhouse gases, including meeting the company’s 2020 goal of driving the production or procurement of 7 billion kWh of renewable energy globally every year and reducing the kWh/sq. ft. energy intensity required to power Walmart’s buildings globally by 20 percent compared to 2010 levels. Walmart will use data-driven tools such as the Sustainability Index to measure, track, and identify hot spots in its overall supply chain and provide buyers with transparency into the key impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions, of the products they source. In addition, Walmart recently announced a partnership with eight of the largest food companies to help ensure that tomorrow’s food supply is more sustainable, including by bringing an additional eight million acres of farmland into sustainability agriculture programs.
  • UN Global Pulse: In May 2014, United Nations Global Pulse hosted its first Big Data Climate Challenge, calling for cutting-edge examples of how scientists, researchers, and citizens are using big data and analytics to address social, economic and environmental challenges. Submissions were received from 40 countries, representing over 20 disciplines, including agriculture. UN Global Pulse will fly winners of the Challenge to the upcoming Climate Summit on September 24th in New York City and their work will be showcased prominently in front of media, decision-makers and civil society. In addition, Global Pulse will work with partners to summarize the results of the Big Data Climate Challenge in a report that maps the intersection of big data and climate change to build global understanding of how big data can reveal critical insights for strengthening resilience, including in the agriculture sector. 

Climate Data in Action:

In addition to the food- and agriculture-focused commitments launching today, a host of new and ongoing efforts continue to broadly advance the President’s Climate Data Initiative, including:

  • iSeeChange and Berkeley Atmospheric C02 Observation Network collaboration: The public media platform iSeeChange and the Berkeley Atmospheric CO2 Observation Network (BEACO2N) are launching a new collaborative project to develop a pilot citizen-science story-corps to help monitor carbon emissions in the San Francisco Bay area and Oakland. Combining BEACO2N’s network of carbon sensors, most mounted atop local schools and museums in the Bay Area, and iSeeChange’s digital platform and public media partners, the collaboration will create an information network to monitor local carbon emissions, produce stories that effectively match data and local impacts over time, and more. The partnership will kick off its work at the AAAS Citizen Science Workshop scheduled for February 2014.
  • UCLA Luskin Center and EDF: The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) are releasing the newest version of the Los Angeles Solar and Efficiency Report (LASER)—a data-driven mapping tool designed to help communities identify opportunities to invest in projects that will save households money, create clean energy jobs and strengthen climate resilience. The tool illustrates existing pollution and climate change impacts at a community level, and illustrates “hot spots” ripe for rooftop solar investment and energy efficiency building potential at the parcel level.
  • Trust for Public Land: The Trust for Public Land will commit new organizational resources through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to help America’s cities lessen their vulnerability to climate-related heat events. Specifically, over the next two years the Trust for Public Land will help fill national gaps in heat-risk spatial data and modeling for cities, expand its Urban Heat Risk Explorer App to new cities, and develop a heat risk reduction GIS toolkit to help cities strategically target green infrastructure for heat resilience.    

For more information about steps the Obama Administration is taking to act on climate change, please visit