OSU climate data program tapped by USDA
By Christina Williams, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
A climate and weather monitoring system developed at Oregon State University will be tapped by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency to prevent fraud in its $79 billion crop insurance program.
The school's PRISM Climate Group landed a related $1 million grant from the agency that will help the group raise its game from calculating monthly averages to daily averages of climate and weather data cross the nation.
The USDA will use the data to develop systems to help adjust farmer crop losses and improve the agency's ability to underwrite its crop insurance program.
"The vast majority of American farmers follow the rules and we want to help them by keeping their costs for crop insurance as low as possible," said Kirk Bryant, deputy director of strategic data acquisition and analysis at the Risk Management Agency, in a press release.
The grant highlights the fact that OSU has one of the nation's most sophisticated weather and climate analysis systems — data that is quickly becoming the holy grail among cleantech investors.
VentureBeat reported last week that data was the talk of its annual GreenBeat conference. Iris Kuo wrote: "At the conference, Google appeared to be interested in harnessing weather data for cleantech, and WeatherBill — founded by two ex-Googlers in 2006 — is using weather data to serve weather-linked insurance policies, but could have application in energy markets. WeatherBug is also using weather data to make a direct play for the smart grid market."
Using the PRISM system — it stands for Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model — OSU researchers are able to take topographic variations into account, improving accuracy of the weather and climate data.
OSU and USDA hope to use the data to help farmers better understand their changing climate and what crops might grow best.
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