The Azimuth Project
Azimuth Backup Project

The idea

We’re backing up US government databases on climate change and the environment before Trump takes office on January 20th. We need some money, at least $5000, for storage space and a server. More would be better.

Background

The safety of US government climate data is at risk. Trump plans to have climate change deniers running every agency concerned with climate change.

Trump’s choice for head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruit, has called himself a "leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda". Pruitt even sued this agency to block Obama’s plan to fight global warming. Trump’s choice for the Department of Energy has claimed that we have been experiencing a cooling trend, and said "there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects".

This makes it imperative to back up the many climate databases held by US government agencies before Trump takes office. We hope he won’t be rash enough to delete these precious records. But: better safe than sorry!

In fact, these backups are worth having regardless of the current political situation. They should have been made long ago. But Trump’s choices for cabinet triggered a rush to get the job done before he takes office:

• Brady Dennis, Scientists are frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump, Washington Post, 13 December 2016.

The Azimuth Backup Project is part of this effort. So far our volunteers have backed up nearly 1 terabyte of data from NASA, NOAA, and other agencies. We’ll do a lot more. But we need some funds to pay for storage space and a server.

The Azimuth Backup Project

Our team is led by four volunteers. Jan Galkowski is a statistician with a strong interest in climate science at Akamai Technologies, a company responsible for serving at least 15% of all web traffic. He began downloading climate data on the 11th of December. Shortly thereafter John Baez, a mathematician and well-known science blogger at U. C. Riverside, joined the project. He’d already founded an organization called the Azimuth Project, which helps scientists and engineers cooperate on environmental issues. works on strategy and publicity for the project. So, it was natural to call this backup effort the Azimuth Environmental Data Backup Project, or Azimuth Backup Project for short.

When Jan started running out of storage space, Scott Maxwell jumped in. He used to work for NASA — driving a Mars rover among other things — and now he works for Google. He set up a 10-terabyte account on Google Drive and started backing up data himself. A couple of days later Sakari Maaranen joined the team. He’s a systems architect at Ubisecure, a Finnish firm, with access to a high-bandwidth connection. He set up a server with Hetzner that provides us with 10 terabytes of storage, gigabit bandwidth and 30 terabytes of a monthly traffic. We can expand the storage space as needed.

This is what we need money for! We want to keep US government environmental databases safely backed up until larger institutions step in and help out. You can see our progress here:

Azimuth Backup Project: Issue Tracker.

So far we’ve backed up these sites:

• NASA’s main database of temperature records, called GISTEMP.

• The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, called CDIAC.

• The Carbon Tracker website, a world-wide map of how carbon dioxide concentrations change with time.

• The U.S. Forest Service Climate Change Atlas.

• The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) database of sea surface temperature files.

• The NOAA Paleoclimatology Datasets.

More are in progress! We are computing hash codes for these datasets to help us prove our copies are correct.

To contact us, send an email to John Baez at baez@math.ucr.edu.