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While it can be difficult to accurately predict the weather, you can predict and address the impacts of climate change by looking at past and present observational data. As computing power grows exponentially, Big Data is becoming an increasingly important tool for helping scientists predict the long-term impacts of climate change, such as the likelihood of extreme rainfall events. That’s why, in response to President Barack Obama’s Climate Data Initiative announced last summer, Microsoft Research is launching a special Climate Data award program to offer scientists and decision-makers 12 months of free Windows Azure cloud-computing resources. The grants from this program will go to 40 awardees, with each award providing up to 180,000 hours of cloud computing time and 20 terabytes of cloud storage.
Beginning next week, our This Week in Sustainability posts will move to our Facebook page, where we will feature weekly posts highlighting some of our favorite articles looking at the intersection of technology and sustainability. We hope you will continue to follow these posts on Facebook! In the meantime, read on to learn more about how new developments in nanotechnology may revolutionize the battery and how a federal warehouse was turned into a super-green smart building.
In recent years Microsoft has increased its awareness and activities around sustainability, from our corporate headquarters in Redmond to our furthest reaching offices around the world. With this commitment, we’ve seen an increased interest from employees across the company in sustainable projects and efforts taking place both at Microsoft and also in other industries. Mark Reynolds, a Microsoft education sales manager in the UK, recently shared an interesting project that is focused on powering technology in the classroom through solar energy, and that has the potential to improve the way technology-enhanced learning is delivered globally.
As part of our commitment to sustainability, we are pleased to report that Microsoft’s supply chain for hardware and packaging (Manufacturing, Supply Chain and Information Services (MSCIS)) was ISO 14001 certified this month. Though we have had a longstanding commitment to supply chain sustainability, including a strict Supplier Code of Conduct that requires Microsoft suppliers to demonstrate social and environmental responsibility, this level of certification represents a new commitment to minimizing the environmental footprint of our hardware and packaging.
This past week the Computational Ecology and Environmental Sciences (CEES) group at Microsoft Research released ZooTracer, a desktop tool that can be used to trace animal movement through consumer video equipment. ZooTracer is one example of a project that helps scientists better understand the migration patterns and behavior analysis of animals, bees and other species in habitats around the world. This animal tracking tool is an important step to address and understand fundamental ecological and environmental problems.