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Federated Climate Data Initiative Newsletter

December 13th, 2021

Aerial view of Noosa River Mouth

We are solving a complex problem

As you probably already know, we are solving a complex problem. Around the country, hundreds of scientists produce petabytes (PB) of the most up-to-date data about the world’s climate. Our scientists and researchers are creating a wealth of high-quality, high-resolution climate model outputs. This data can help researchers, government, industry, or the general public make better decisions about Australia’s future.

The problem is that the quantity of information they produce is hard to share between researchers or other people who need it. Until now, the supply of this information has not been keeping up with its growing demand.

The solution is the Federated Climate Data Initiative (FCDI).

We are creating a single, united virtual collection from the enormous amounts of information currently stored around the country. The aim is to make the data much easier to find, access and use, dramatically enhancing the quality of future research and the services built this new knowledge, particularly around future risk.

Australia’s many regional climate projections are vital for understanding what impacts we must adapt to, for example, an increased bushfire risk. We can then determine which risks we can reduce, which could involve changing how we do things, such as what we grow and where we grow it. And, importantly, we can work out which impacts we want to avoid, for example, losing precious ecosystems if we allow climate change to increase by 2°C. By accelerating how we create products and services from these projections, change-makers will be able to act on the findings sooner.

Dr Tomas Remenyi, Chief Investigator

How is the project tracking?

Although the Federated Climate Data Initiative has been in the planning since 2018, as of April 2021, the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Fund has officially funded it with initial seed funding of $500,000. Development of contractual arrangements with partners is ongoing.

Since April, we have been busy setting up data access nodes across the country. We have installed nodes in Tasmania, Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria. They are steadily adding to the data available through the network.

We are building nodes in South Australia and within the National Computing Infrastructure are well underway. We are also working with the Australian Climate Service, the Climate Services for Agriculture Program and the National Environmental Science Program on how the FCDI can support them best. We will keep you updated on these developments through future newsletters.

All state and territory governments have now joined the project. The CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Department of Home Affairs are also contributors. We’ve also welcomed some of Australia’s leading universities to the team including:

  • University of Tasmania
  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Queensland
  • Murdoch University
  • Griffith University
  • Australian National University

And welcoming our new implementation partner, Eratos, who is helping the project come to life.

If you’d like to part of this historic project, we would love to hear from you. To get involved or if you want to promote complimentary activities through our newsletter, please contact the Chief Investigator, Dr Tomas Remenyi.

In the spotlight

In each issue of the newsletter, we will put the spotlight on each team contributing to this important collaboration.

The first spotlight is on the newest player in this field, Eratos, with CEO Steve Taitoko Eratos is one of the key players in the FCDI. The Melbourne based startup is responsible for building the infrastructure that the FCDI is based on. Tom Remenyi met with Steve Taitoko for the first time about two years ago, and they immediately knew they needed to work together to make the project happen.

What does Eratos hope to achieve through the FCDI?

Steve describes Eratos as a company “that’s looking to change how we make decisions about the world we live in.” They do that by creating the technology to allow people to make decisions from data that hasn’t been available before, data based on real-time information about the world we live in.

“Our purpose is how we can help humans survive on this ever increasingly heating rock that’s hurtling through space,” Steve says. “We can use a lot more information to create shared and collaborative knowledge to make better decisions about the world we live in. Decisions like what we plant in our soils, how we build our cities, how we can ensure that humans and our ecosystems survive within a changing climate, how we adapt to more extreme climate events that are going to be happening.”

How did you get involved?

Steve says that the Federated Climate Data Initiative and Eratos fit together like two pieces of a puzzle. “I was going to Hobart for a couple of days holiday, and I organised some meetings while I was down there. One of those meetings happened to be with Dr Tom Remenyi.”

“He showed me a diagram of an ARC linkage proposal… and I said to him, that diagram you’ve just drawn, that’s what we’re building, so don’t worry about that part; we will take care of that.” And through that meeting, a serendipitous partnership was born. Tom would focus on climate science, and Eratos would support him with the platform build. “That’s how it all started,” Steve says. “It was really random, just a random meeting.”

To hear more from Steve Taitoko and other key players in the project; keep an eye out for our new podcast. We will keep you updated on that. 

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