Climate Wizard

Making Climate Information Visual and Accessible

Climate Wizard is a Web tool that generates color maps of projected temperature and precipitation changes using 16 of the world's most prominent climate-change models. It is being used to consider such things as habitat shifts that will affect endangered species, and places around the world where crops could be at risk because of drought or temperature shifts.

Climate Wizard was funded by and initially developed for The Nature Conservancy planners and scientists wanting climate change information when considering priorities for habitat protection and other efforts.  Nature Conservancy Senior Scientist Evan Girvetz, who also has an SFR affiliate faculty appointment , worked on Climate Wizard during a postdoctoral appointment at SFR, participating in a joint effort among the UW, the University of Southern Mississippi, and The Nature Conservancy. Girvetz was the project's analytical lead, taking the 16 climate models and organizing their data so they could be queried; The Nature Conservancy’s Chris Zganjar brought expertise about user experiences; and George Raber of  the University of Southern Mississippi developed a Web site to connect to the datasets organized by Girvetz.  Climate Wizard was demonstrated by The Nature Conservancy in Copenhagen in conjunction with the recent climate summit there, and was the topic of a paper released online by the Public Library of Science's PLoS ONE with Girvetz as lead author and SFR Assistant Professor Josh Lawler among the co-authors. Other authors on the paper are Edwin Maurer, Santa Clara University and Peter Kareiva, The Nature Conservancy, Seattle.   

Climate Wizard lets users focus on states, countries, or regions around the world and apply different scenarios to generate color-coded maps of changes in temperature and precipitation that can, in turn, be used to consider things like moisture stress in vegetation and freshwater supplies.   Users can choose from a number of parameters. For example, one can look at the climate of the past 50 years, or projections for mid-century, the 2050s, or toward the end of the century, the 2080s. Among other variables, one can generate maps based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes' estimates of greenhouse gas emissions being high, medium, or low in the future.  Although one can consider the projections from each of 16 individual climate models, Girvetz recommends using one of the programs's newest features, the ability to create an ensemble of some or all of the 16 models. Want to average the temperatures of, say, the 12 climate models that forecast the largest temperature increases? Climate Wizard can do so almost instantaneously. "Ensembles can give a better range of future possible climate changes compared to using a single model," he says.

"Climate Wizard is meant to make it easier to explore climate data in an interactive and intuitive way," says Girvetz. “Politicians, resource managers, and citizens are all potential users." Adds Lawler, "Because of the size and format of the datasets, climate data are notoriously unwieldy. Climate Wizard makes those data readily available to a much wider audience."  

Find Climate Wizard at http://www.climatewizard.org/

The paper is available at http://tiny.cc/sdCli.  

ClimateWizard generated map.