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Google, Microsoft Help U.S. Track Climate Change

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The White House has summoned both Google (GOOG) and Microsoft  (MSFT) to aid in the government's quest to learn more about climate change.

A team of researchers from both companies is helping to gather information for the government's new climate change portal as part of Data.gov as part of President Obama's massive Climate Data Initiative

The government states the new Web mission as:

Here you can find data related to climate change that can help inform and prepare America's communities, businesses, and citizens. Initially, in this pilot phase, you can find data and resources related to coastal flooding, sea level rise, and their impacts. Over time, you will be able to find additional data and tools relevant to other important climate-related impacts, including risks to human health, the food supply, and energy infrastructure.

The idea is to allow researchers outside of the government to inspect and crunch the data provided on the Web site and create their own conclusions and predict future disasters such Hurricane Sandy which struck the New York City region in late 2012.

The Obama administration's unveiling of the climate change data portal coincides with the launch by the American Association for the Advancement of Science of a new public information initiative. The AAAS intends to use its Web site to foster recognition of the scientific consensus behind anthropogenic global warming and climate change and promote constructive activity toward solutions. 

Both Google and Microsoft are lending teams of experts to help with the government project. The actual raw data to be used will come from sources such as NASA, the Defense Department and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Google plans to donate as much as 50 million hours of the company's "Earth Engine" computing power to the effort. It's also planning to team up with experts to develop near real-time drought maps and monitoring systems.

Microsoft is developing a system called Fetch Climate that stores climate data from the past and will then be able to compute and forecast future weather trends. It would then alert officials to such problems as the possibility of extreme rainfall episodes. The system would then be able to help minimize infrastructure and property damage as well as ultimately save lives.

Google stock was advancing 0.03% to $1,119.56 while Microsoft stock was off 0.48% to $39.27 in New York premarket trading.

NOAA and NASA will try to lure experts to use the new data by offering competitions such as the "Coastal Flooding Innovation Challenge" which will "help people understand their exposure to coastal hazards and their increased vulnerability due to population increase and sea level rise."


-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York

To submit a news tip, send an email to tips@thestreet.com.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's Senior Technology Correspondent.

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