Microsoft Introduces Environmental Data Tool FetchClimate on Earth Day



Microsoft wants to make finding environmental data as simple as clicking on a map. To make this a reality Microsoft has introduced FetchClimate, a tool that makes locating environmental information easy. By drawing a box around a geographic area you’re and selecting the environmental information wanted, you can view the data on Bing Maps within seconds.

FetchClimate calculates data uncertainty, so you know how reliable the information is, and the tool allows you to specify precisely the size of the area and the period of time for your query.

FetchClimate runs in the cloud, on Microsoft Azure, meaning there is no physical limit on how much information can be added. You can not only look at historical climate data but also peer into the future, as Microsoft has included forecast data from the latest climate simulation experiments. For example, you can see what the predicted temperature or precipitation in your area will be in 2050.

The Computational Ecology and Environmental Science group in Microsoft Research has spent several years developing FetchClimate, working with Moscow State University, which provided software development, and the DigiLab at the London College of Communication, which designed an interface. Microsoft is releasing FetchClimate—in three different ways—for anyone to use for research, study, or just to satisfy their curiosity about our planet.

  • First, anyone can access our own FetchClimate service via a web explorer, which features a number of useful climatological layers, including temperature, precipitation, and sea depth. (If you would like to make your information and data easily available within our service, please contact us. We are interested in augmenting our current climate and environmental data with socio-economic and health information—or any other global information best viewed on a map.)
  • Second, you can access the same service via an API, from inside a program written in any of several languages, including .NET, R, and Python.
  • And third, we’re releasing a deployment package so that the more technically savvy of you can set up your own FetchClimate-powered service to make your data available to your colleagues, and to the wider world, via the same web explorer that runs over our own service. We’ll soon be open sourcing that explorer portion of the deployment, so you can customize or skin it how you like (all we ask is that you acknowledge that the service is powered by FetchClimate).

For more information see Microsoft Research’s full blog post.

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