OGC Applies Open Climate Data to California Flood Scenario

By George Percivall

George Percivall is the Chief Technology Officer and Chief Engineer for the Open Geospatial Consortium. His leadership of geospatial information development includes programs at OGC, NASA, General Motors and Hughes Space and Communications; including publication of ISO and OGC Standards.

“We’re going to have to all work together in the years to come to make sure that we address the challenge and leave this incredible land embodied to our children and our grandchildren in at least as good shape as we found it.” – President Barack Obama, Remarks on the California Drought, February 14, 2014

In March 2014, the Obama Administration launched the Climate Data Initiative, unleashing troves of open government data about our climate and calling on America’s innovators to leverage data in ways that can make our Nation’s communities and businesses more resilient to climate change.

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) has committed to support the US Climate Data Initiative in OGC’s Testbed 11 by increasing the accessibility of open spatial information needed by a population displaced due to coastal inundation. Advances achieved in the Testbed will be demonstrated in June 2015 based on a scenario focused on the San Francisco Bay.

The scientific consensus is that climate change will have unavoidable impacts on urban systems and populations. Climate adaptation will be essential, and planning for adaptation can be simplified through operationalizing concepts of climate resilience and vulnerability.[1] The Defense Quadrennial Review reported recently that climate changes will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.

Federal agencies such as NASA, USGS, and NOAA together with state and local governments collect enormous amounts of data that can be used to understand the impacts of a changing climate. The challenge is to create easy-to-use tools for regional planners, farmers, hospitals, scientist, disaster response teams, political analysts, or businesses that allow for a better understanding of a changing climate and related consequences, mitigation and adaptation strategies, and general planning processes.

OGC’s Interoperability Program encourages geospatial technology users and providers to work collaboratively in an agile development environment to develop, evolve, test, demonstrate and validate candidate geospatial standards under real world conditions.  In order to support national climate-change preparedness, part of this program, OGC’s Testbed 11 will integrate technology based on the scenario of spatial information needed when a population is displaced due to coastal inundation.

OGC Testbed 11 is empowering open access to climate change information using open standards. The Urban Climate Resilience theme of Testbed 11 responds to the urgent need to make climate information and related data readily available for the public and government decision makers to prepare for changes in the Earth’s climate.

Climate research by USGS, NASA, US DoD, NOAA, and associated organizations predict potential impact of sea level rise on the Pacific coast of California and estuaries, including the San Francisco Bay. Predictions from the USGS Coastal Storm Modeling System indicate sea level could rise along the California coast by as much as 1.7 meters by the end of the 21st century, and that during winter storms, coastal water levels could be elevated by an additional 5 meters. In addition to sea level rise, increases in the frequency and intensity of coastal flooding as a result of combined effects of wind-driven storm surge, coastal wave generation, and tidal effects during storms and local weather systems, indicate significant potential for damage to property, shore infrastructure, coastal estuaries and harbors, and natural and built environment.

By deploying and testing a California Coastal Flood Inundation scenario, Testbed 11 will advance the state of information systems for climate data sharing. Testbed 11 responds to the urgent need to make climate information and related data readily available for the public and government decision makers to prepare for changes in the Earth’s climate.

High-resolution datasets to be used in Testbed 11  flood inundation model.

High-resolution datasets to be used in Testbed 11 flood inundation model.[2]


Modeling Flowchart for SF Bay Flood Scenario[3]

Testbed 11 will make Engineering advancements in these areas:

  • High Resolution Flood Information Modeling:
    Improving access to and control of simulation models and high-resolution data using the OGC Web Processing Service.
  • Planning for Displaced Population due to Coastal Inundation:
    Addressing integration of various data sources using different encodings and bindings, including data streaming, using OGC GeoPackage creation, and web processing from Web Feature Services.
  • Cross-jurisdictional Data sharing for Disaster Planning and Response:
    Information sharing will be achieved using the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) – the US XML-based information exchange framework that permits agencies or organizations to share dissimilar data and information
  • Improving Open Standards for Climate Data Sharing:
    OGC Architecture for a consistent approach across the OGC and other standards using REST, JSON, Linked Data, Semantic Services, use of social media data, and common symbology

Results of Testbed 11 will be demonstrated at an international event during first week of June 2015 in Boulder, Colorado. Engineering results will be provided to the OGC Standards Program for consideration of adoption in the open consensus geospatial standards process.

The OGC Interoperability Program is an essential part of OGC’s fast, effective, inclusive user-driven process to develop, evolve, test, demonstrate and promote OGC Standards. Beginning in 1999, OGC’s Interoperability Program has conducted 85 initiatives that build and exercise public-private partnerships designed to accelerate the development of emerging concepts and drive global trends in interoperability through rapid prototyping of new capabilities. Sponsoring Organizations provide requirements and funding. Participating organizations develop the solutions, receive partial funding and contribute in-kind. OGC staff manages the open process that leads to running code, demonstrations, and reports that inform standards development.

OGC Testbed 11 Sponsoring Organizations

  • US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
  • US Geological Survey (USGS)
  • US Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • UK Defense Science and Technology Lab (UK-DSTL)
  • US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • European Organization for the Safety of Air Transportation (EUROCONTROL)
  • UAE Ministry of Interior Abu Dhabi Police GIS Center for Security (UAE – ADP GIS CS)
  • Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)

[1] Tyler, S., & Moench, M. (2012). A framework for urban climate resilience. Climate and Development, 4(4), 311–326

[2] Dr. Guy Schumann, Remote Sensing Solutions, Testbed 11 internal communications.

[3] Dr. Guy Schumann, Remote Sensing Solutions, Testbed 11 internal communications.


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