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AT&T releases weather data to help cities forecast and fight climate change

AT&T has made climate data from the US Department of Energy available to public and private colleges and universities, as well as local governments, to use for climate risk analysis.

AT&T is working with the Argonne National Laboratory, a research laboratory run by the University of Chicago Argonne for the United States Department of Energy, to stimulate new research and applications to help local communities better predict, prepare for and adapt to the changing climate.

Universities have been invited to collaborate with local governments on risk-based climate analysis using data from the Argonne National Laboratory, shared by AT&T. The data can be plugged into a variety of applications to visualise climate impacts down to neighbourhood level 30 years into the future, said AT&T.

“These insights can be utilised by businesses, organisations, and communities to better prepare for climate change,” it said.

The new Climate Resiliency Community Challenge is focused, specifically, on the “Southeast Region” of the US, covering a core of states on the lower Atlantic seaboard and eastern Gulf Coast.

The region includes Florida and North Carolina, which bear the brunt in hurricane season. Of 36 hurricanes between 1995 and 2017, 11 hit Florida directly, according to information from the National Hurricane Center. North Carolina has been hit seven hurricanes. Georgia and South Carolina are also included in the remit.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the expected annual damage cost to the states overall to currently amount to about $28 billion. Florida accounts for the largest share of damage cost at 55 percent in the agency’s calculations.

AT&T said: “Data that helps assess the risk of climate change should be available to those who need it. That’s why we’re sharing the same climate datasets we have developed with Argonne National Laboratory with universities, local governments and others to use for their own climate risk analysis.”

The project will consider impacts on infrastructure, public health, emergency management, or similar field related to community resilience. AT&T will provide participating universities with leading climate data from Argonne National Laboratory and up to $50,000 in funding to support the research projects. 

One team from each state in the Southeast Region will be selected by an independent panel of non-profit climate experts. Teams are encouraged to be creative in using Argonne National Laboratory’s leading climate data and may leverage and integrate supporting data and technology available through the university and local government.

Participating universities will their findings and proposals for solutions. The deadline for applications is September 30, 2019.

AT&T has surveyed business leaders in the US to find most (59 per cent) view climate change as a priority, and an equal number (59 per cent) consider their companies to be “climate resilient.” However, less than a third (29 per cent) have assessed the risks of climate change to their business, and fewer than two in five (38 per cent) say their company has a plan to respond to climate-related events.

Charlene Lake, senior vice president for corporate social responsibility and chief sustainability officer at AT&T, said: “Climate change impacts everyone – financially and physically – even if we might not recognize it in our daily lives. It’s important we know the risks and learn how to adapt. At AT&T, we’re using the best available science and technology to visualize the impacts of climate change on our business.”

Lake said: “Not all companies and communities have access to the data they need for similar risk analysis. So, we’re happy to share the data from our work with Argonne National Laboratory.”

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