AT&T Software Creates Climate Risk Plan for Idaho

Forest fire in Idaho

(Credit: USDA Forest Service)

by | Sep 28, 2023

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AT&T has conducted a study of its new Climate Risk and Resilience Portal (ClimRR) in Idaho, where the tool was used to project future weather trends and help inform the state’s weather-related disaster planning.

In 2022, AT&T collaborated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Energy’s Argonne Laboratory to create ClimRR. The goal of the project was to help communities build resilience to climate change and its accompanying extreme weather events. The ClimRR platform is publicly available online for free and can provide communities with access to climate data projections for temperature, heating and cooling days, heat index, fire weather index, precipitation, and drought.

In the Idaho case study, the portal was put to the test in partnership with the Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) as they created the state’s Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP).

ClimRR provided the IOEM with projections for precipitation, wildfires, and temperature in the state for the next decades until the end of the century. Findings included increased annual precipitation, yet at a less frequent rate, indicating a higher potential for drought. Wildfires are expected to spread east throughout the century and put crop yields and communities within the Boise and Snake River Plain regions in potential danger. Finally, under the more severe climate scenario of the two explored, 20 of Idaho’s 44 counties are expected to average over 90-degree summer daily high temperatures, with some counties reaching an average of about 101 degrees.

With FEMA’s newly released State Mitigation Planning Policy Guide, all states will be required to include climate, population, and land use projections in all HMPs. Idaho’s finalized, updated HMP now meets FEMA’s new requirements.

ClimRR Process and New Insights Gained from the Case Study

The ClimRR tool looks at climate conditions on the local level instead of relying heavily on historical trends like many other modeling tools. Dynamical downscaling is used to account for the physical processes of the rapidly changing climate by running simulations on supercomputers.

Along with the purely data-driven analyses, project leads engaged in conversations with IOEM to determine what kind of information would be most useful for the department and to learn about historical extreme events in the area.

According to AT&T, the case study revealed the importance of breaking down data by region in order to find how local communities will be impacted differently by a given weather event. Further, the study found local input and stakeholder feedback from the community to be crucial to their findings. In using ClimRR, communities will also benefit most from clear, succinct results that highlight the most important findings out of the vast amount of data available.

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