How might climate change affect our food supply?

July 30, 2014 by Dan Fay, Microsoft
How might climate change affect our food supply?

It's no easy question to answer, but prudence demands that we try. Thus, Microsoft and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have teamed up to tackle "food resilience," one of several themes that make up the White House's Climate Data Initiative.

"Through his Climate Data Initiative, President Obama is calling for all hands on deck to unleash data and technology in ways that will make businesses and communities more resilient to change," said John P. Holdren, President Obama's Science Advisor. "The commitments being announced today answer that call by empowering the U.S. and global agricultural sectors with the tools and information needed to keep food systems strong and secure in a changing climate."

The Climate Data Initiative has unleashed a torrent of climate-related data from NOAA, NASA, the US Geological Survey, US Department of Defense, and other federal agencies, including the USDA. These facts and figures, which reside on's Climate website, pose a classic "big data" challenge: how to efficiently analyze enormous information sets and share the meaningful insights.

Microsoft has posted the USDA datasets to the Microsoft Azure Marketplace (enter search term USDA), and, together with the USDA, we will be sponsoring workshops, webinars, and "appathons" to demonstrate the value of open access data and to promote the development of tools for understanding these datasets. The overarching goal is to encourage data providers, scientists, farmers, food producers and the public to discover the food supply's key vulnerabilities and inherent resiliency. This predictive information will inform a planning model built on the powerful business intelligence tools that are part of the Microsoft Azure cloud-computing platform, enabling federal agencies, along with the public, access and tools to promote data synthesis with other data sources.

How might climate change affect our food supply?

To advance this effort even further, Microsoft Research is announcing a special Climate Data RFP focused on food resilience in the face of climate change. This RFP offers 12 months of free cloud-computing resources to 20 awardees selected from proposals submitted by September 15, 2014. Each award provides up to 180,000 hours of cloud-computing time and 20 terabytes of cloud storage.

To qualify for the awards program, you must be affiliated with an academic institution or non-profit research laboratory. In addition to individual investigator projects, we are interested in projects that will support access to services and data of value to a collaboration or community.

Your proposal should not exceed three pages in length. It should include resource requirement estimates (number of core, storage requirements, and so forth) for your project. Apply and learn more about the RFP at Food Resilience Climate Data Initiative.

How might climate change affect our food supply?

We encourage all investigators to join with the USDA and us in an effort to understand the impact of on our food supply.

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1.2 / 5 (5) Jul 30, 2014
This "initiative" has to stop. "Studying how climate change can affect X", where X is anything, is neither easy nor cheap. There are simply too many Xs! And then, there is no indication so far that actual temperature is following predictions. Lets not forget the smell coming from that kind of study as well.

On the other hand, what about other initiatives, like studying cancer? Are they unworthy and don't require research funds anymore? The grant money supply is not limitless.
Jul 30, 2014
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1 / 5 (4) Jul 30, 2014
There was a discussion here? When your party answers any possible question with the same answer: "You are paid-to-post denier (therefore, your arguments are POS)"?
5 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2014
Just because something is neither easy nor cheap doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. And that's a false choice, studying cancer is still being done, quite a bit of it actually. And often those grants are coming from different sources so climate study and cancer study are not competing for the same grants.

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