NOAA strikes climate modeling R&D agreement with Microsoft

The agency will use Microsoft's Azure cloud platform to pilot Earth Prediction Innovation Center projects.
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. (Image credit: Getty Images).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will work with Microsoft to improve climate and forecast models through the use of machine learning, the agency announced Wednesday.

As part of a new cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA), the federal agency will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform to pilot Earth Prediction Innovation Center (EPIC) earth system modeling projects.

CRADAs allow agencies to share ideas, technical expertise, facilities, research materials and intellectual property with external partners but prohibit federal funding. This latest CRADA is one of several Microsoft has entered with NOAA and other departments including the Navy and Army in the last two years to optimize satellite management, access educational resources and improve natural disaster resilience.

“We are excited about the potential of partnering NOAA’s environmental intelligence with Microsoft’s cloud computing in hopes of amplifying NOAA’s ability to predict climate, weather and ocean changes,” said Administrator Rick Spinrad in the announcement.


NOAA hopes to improve models including those used to predict air quality, wildfire smoke and particulate pollution.

The CRADA also covers Microsoft tools for accelerating NOAA Fisheries’ collection, processing, storage and sharing of survey and observation data to improve its fisheries management. NOAA Fisheries plans to create a searchable catalog of ocean observations, including case studies of how they’re used to support public policy, safety, economic growth, environmental protection and climate resilience internationally.

NOAA also hopes to incorporate more external data sources into its weather modeling and forecasting system.

“We are honored to collaborate with NOAA to bring the power of cloud computing to help our nation’s leading scientists solve some of the important challenges facing the world,” said Rick Wagner, president of Microsoft Federal, in a statement. “Microsoft Azure Artificial Intelligence and high-performance computing capabilities can help NOAA accelerate critical research and foster innovative approaches to mitigate the risk of climate change.”

Dave Nyczepir

Written by Dave Nyczepir

Dave Nyczepir is a technology reporter for FedScoop. He was previously the news editor for Route Fifty and, before that, the education reporter for The Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs, California. He covered the 2012 campaign cycle as the staff writer for Campaigns & Elections magazine and Maryland’s 2012 legislative session as the politics reporter for Capital News Service at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned his master’s of journalism.

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