weather satellite (aapsky/

Putting the Earth's weather data in the cloud

Tornadoes, heavy rain, flooding and extreme heat have made recent headlines – both in the U.S. and internationally -- with  meteorologists and residents in a storms' path scrambling to keep up with fast-moving weather systems and changing forecasts.  

Much of forecasters' weather data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which pulls weather data from government- owned and -operated platforms as well as commercial systems and provides real-time access to global partners. As new technologies and the amount of high-quality data available increases, along with the number of commercial vendors providing environmental data, NOAA wants to move beyond refreshing current data sharing agreements and updating aging infrastructure and establish a cloud-based exchange of global weather data.

A cloud-based platform, according to NOAA, would facilitate the joint procurement of commercial data and address current architectures' ability to manage big data, which limits the ability to extract of value from growing volumes of data.

NOAA envisions a solution that can incorporate a variety of datasets and participants, scale to support a range of evolving operational needs and lay the foundation for a future incentive-driven, international weather data exchange program. Other goals include using public-private partnerships to design and engineer the data exchange, stimulating private-sector investment in data-sparse regions by creating an efficient marketplace for selling weather data and operating a cloud infrastructure that supports storage, processing, and transfer of weather and  real-time assimilation in models.

In a request for information, NOAA is asking for feedback on the feasibility of establishing an enterprise data exchange for commercial weather and earth observations. Comments are due June 10.

On a smaller scale, the Air Force is looking toward commercial solutions to provide improved global space and terrestrial weather data and products for the Defense Department.

The Commercial Weather Data Pilot broad agency announcement characterizes solutions using commercial spaced-based weather sensors, delivering already-available commercial data and developing  tools or techniques to exploit the data and integrate it into Air Force weather systems and models.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.


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