NASA’s Earth Exchange – Innovating ways to communicate climate change

I would love to see someone I know win $25,000 for designing an app to use data on NASA’s Earth Exchange (NEX). I’m so excited to see what’s happening with NASA’s Virtual Workshop and Challenge. One of the purposes of this blog is to keep track of really cool things I come across in my reading – online or otherwise – and share it with all of you. This particular opportunity is worth noting. (Note: This blog post will definitely be categorized under ‘Geeky Science’).

For decades, scientists (in the US – particularly if they have federal funding) have been asked to make all of their data (whether it’s observational or from a climate model) available to the general public after publishing papers on it. Most do this. But the data repositories are often large and unwieldy, and even other scientists have difficulty accessing it and figuring out how to use it. As for the general public? Forget about it. As a result, the gap between our scientific understanding on such a problem as, say, global warming, and what the public see in the general media has grown quite large (politics aside, here).

NASA is trying to bridge the gap between the scientific community and the general public with their Open Earth Exchange workshop. Anyone can participate in their virtual workshop composed of labs and lectures on climate data and analysis. And anyone can take on their challenge to compete for prize money to develop an app that will allow their data to reach many more people.

I know nothing about app design (I don’t even have a smart phone) – but I’m eager to try out their labs to gather ideas for future classes, and, possibly, to help out some of my sabbatical research. So I’m adding this to the sabbatical to-do list.

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