Putting the Earth's weather data in the cloud

As the amount high-quality weather data increases, NOAA is looking at a cloud-based exchange for global weather information.

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.

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