Tech Titans Pledge Free Cycles for Climate Change Research

By Tiffany Trader

July 29, 2014

Amazon, Microsoft and IBM are promising to provide free virtual supercomputing and cloud resources to support the US government’s Climate Action Plan and Climate Data Initiative program.

The initiatives, which were unveiled earlier today, coincide with a report from the Council of Economic Advisers that explores the economic consequences of delaying action to stem climate change. A key finding of the report is that immediate action substantially reduces the cost of achieving climate targets. Conversely, climate change arising from delayed action is associated with large economic damages.

In response, Amazon Web Services rep Jeff Barr says the company is interested in “exploring ways to use computational analysis to drive innovative research in to climate change.” Starting in early September, AWS will award over 50 million core hours worth of free supercomputing time on the Amazon Cloud to select climate-related projects.

“Our goal is to encourage and accelerate research that will result in an improved understanding of the scope and effects of climate change, along with analyses that could suggest potential mitigating actions,” writes Barr.

The call for proposals opens today and submissions are due August 29, 2014. Recipients will be invited to present initial research and findings at the AWS re:Invent conference in November. Interested parties can learn more by visiting the Amazon Climate Change Grants page.

Amazon rival Microsoft is also supporting the White House’s climate data initiative by providing scientists and decision-makers with access to Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources as well as making available a collection of climate-research related datasets through its Azure Marketplace.

In response to the White House Climate Action Plan, Microsoft Research and the Microsoft Azure for Research program announced 12 months of free cloud computing resources would be awarded to 40 deserving proposals submitted by July 15, 2014. Each award comes with up to 180,000 hours of cloud computing time and 20 terabytes of cloud storage in addition to training.

Due to such a strong response to the first round of this RFP, Microsoft today debuted a second Climate Data Initiative (CDI) program, this one with a focus on food resilience. Proposals for this program, which will provide 12 months of free cloud computing resources to 20 awardees, are due September 15, 2014.

IBM is also backing the President’s climate change mitigation efforts through the expanding of its World Community Grid program. The expansion will provide eligible scientists studying climate change with free access to virtual supercomputing resources and a platform to engage the public on their research.

The World Community Grid is volunteer computing program through which members of the public donate unused computing cycles to a cause. IBM says each approved project will have access to up to 100,000 years of computing time worth approximately $60 million.

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