AT&T, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne) has launched the Climate Risk and Resilience Portal (ClimRR), which advances access to cutting-edge science for climate projections to help improve America’s preparedness for future climate extremes.
This announcement comes as world leaders gather for the United Nations climate change conference COP27.
Using climate science modeling that is among the most sophisticated methodologies worldwide, ClimRR gives state, local, tribal and territorial emergency managers and community leaders free access to localized data about future climate risks that can be used to explore strategies for resilience. Initial hazards included in ClimRR are temperature, precipitation, wind and drought conditions. Additional risks, such as wildfire and flooding, will be added in the coming months.
FEMA’s collaboration on ClimRR and the Biden-Harris Administration’s recently released Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation (CMRA) assessment tool represent the federal commitment to making climate science data available so communities across America can make risk-informed investments to become more resilient.
AT&T originally commissioned Argonne’s Center for Climate Resilience and Decision Science to produce the climate projections in ClimRR for the company’s own adaptation efforts. Through this collaboration, AT&T has made the data used in ClimRR publicly available.
Why is this important? One in three Americans say they have been personally affected by an extreme weather event in the past two years. These climate impacts, which are becoming more frequent and intense, can vary not just from state to state, but even at the local level.
ClimRR provides peer-reviewed climate datasets in a non-technical format and puts high-resolution, forward-looking climate insights into the hands of those who need them most. Community leaders and public safety officials can now understand how increasing climate risks will affect their populations. Access to this information will assist leaders as they strategically invest in infrastructure and response capabilities to protect communities for future generations.
“While fortifying the AT&T network against climate change is critical for the millions of people who rely on the connectivity we provide, resiliency can’t be built in a vacuum,” said Charlene Lake, chief sustainability officer and SVP-Corporate Social Responsibility at AT&T. “Our world is interdependent. We want other organizations and communities to see where they’re potentially vulnerable to climate change and take steps to become resilient. That’s why we’re excited to make our data publicly available and to work closely with FEMA and Argonne to get it into the right hands.”
“FEMA works with a wide range of stakeholders across the public and private sectors to achieve the goals outlined in our 2022-2026 Strategic Plan,” said FEMA’s Acting Deputy Administrator, Victoria Salinas. “These goals include leading the whole of community in climate resilience as well as promoting and sustaining a ready FEMA and a prepared nation. ClimRR will help us make progress against these critical objectives.”
“Argonne is excited to launch this cutting-edge climate portal with AT&T and FEMA, which will give communities across the country free and open access to actionable climate data,” said Argonne Director Paul Kearns. “Harnessing the power of our supercomputers, we are making cutting edge climate data available to the public sector and local planning officials to help them better understand local climate-change risks and take the needed actions to become more climate resilient.”
Climate projections from ClimRR can be overlayed with community and infrastructure information sourced from the Resilience Analysis and Planning Tool (RAPT). Combining data from ClimRR and RAPT allows users to understand local-scale climate risks in the context of existing community demographics and infrastructure, including the location of vulnerable populations and critical infrastructure.
AT&T assesses climate factors in its own operations to ensure the company’s infrastructure can meet customer needs in the face of increasing threats from climate change. Risks like flooding, wildfire, drought and wind are integrated into network resilience efforts and infrastructure planning processes. The company has accumulated years of experience interpreting the data. This expertise helped inform the creation of ClimRR to ensure the climate projections are actionable for local communities.
The data in ClimRR was produced by Argonne using the dynamical downscaling method, which simulates the many different processes affecting the atmosphere, ocean and land. This results in projections for a broader range of climate variables than the often-used statistical downscaling method and has the potential to improve estimates of extreme events at a local scale.
How else does AT&T support FEMA? FEMA also selected AT&T to modernize its communications capabilities and enhance its ability to help people before, during and after disasters. FEMA is using FirstNet®, Built with AT&T – America’s public safety network built with and for first responders – to stay connected when it matters most.