Give the Earth a Present: Help Us Save Climate Data


We’ve been busy backing up climate data before Trump becomes President. Now you can help too, with some money to pay for servers and storage space. Please give what you can at our Kickstarter campaign here:

Azimuth Climate Data Backup Project.

If we get $5000 by the end of January, we can save this data until we convince bigger organizations to take over. If we don’t get that much, we get nothing. That’s how Kickstarter works. Also, if you donate now, you won’t be billed until January 31st.

So, please help! It’s urgent.

I will make public how we spend this money. And if we get more than $5000, I’ll make sure it’s put to good use. There’s a lot of work we could do to make sure the data is authenticated, made easily accessible, and so on.

The idea

The safety of US government climate data is at risk. Trump plans to have climate change deniers running every agency concerned with climate change. So, scientists are rushing to back up the many climate databases held by US government agencies before he takes office.

We hope he won’t be rash enough to delete these precious records. But: better safe than sorry!

The Azimuth Climate Data Backup Project is part of this effort. So far our volunteers have backed up nearly 1 terabyte of climate data from NASA and other agencies. We’ll do a lot more! We just need some funds to pay for storage space and a server until larger institutions take over this task.

The team

Jan Galkowski is a statistician with a strong interest in climate science. He works 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 science blogger at U. C. Riverside, joined in to publicize the project. He’d already founded an organization called the Azimuth Project, which helps scientists and engineers cooperate on environmental issues.

• 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, he’s downloading lots of data, he showed us how to authenticate it with SHA-256 hashes, and he’s managing many other technical aspects of this project.

There are other people involved too. You can watch the nitty-gritty details of our progress here:

Azimuth Backup Project – Issue Tracker.

and you can learn more here:

Azimuth Climate Data Backup Project.

21 Responses to Give the Earth a Present: Help Us Save Climate Data

  1. Grandpa D says:

    Looks good ! How do we contribute ? david

  2. […] via Give the Earth a Present: Help Us Save Climate Data — Azimuth […]

  3. Alvaro Riascos says:

    Dear John: i am a mathematician working at the university of los andes: and I follow your very interesting blog. I also run a small firm that specializes in applying math to solve industry problems. We have plenty of space in our dropbox corporate account. We will be happy to temporarily lend you storage 5 TB or more while your backup project gets funded. Granting access would be easy using a corporate account only you access.

    Please let me know if this helps.


    El 28 dic. 2016 2:21 PM, “Azimuth” escribió:

    John Baez posted: ” We’ve been busy backing up climate data before Trump becomes President. Now you can help too, with some money to pay for servers and storage space. Please give what you can at our Kickstarter campaign here: • Azimuth Climate Data Backup Project.”

    • John Baez says:

      Hi! I’m sorry it took me a few days to notice and moderate your post. Thanks for your kind offer! I believe we currently have enough storage space and the funds to buy more as needed. We are currently limited by the number of people who are able to download large amounts of data, e.g. entire websites or ftp sites, and create SHA hashes of the data.

  4. Graham Jones says:

    I went to donate, but it seems over $5000 has been raised already (so something else might need my money more). Have I missed something?

    • John Baez says:

      You’ve missed the opportunity to claim, rather tendentiously, that your donation was necessary for us to get any money at all. But don’t let that stop you! I was being very conservative in choosing the figure of $5000 since I wanted to make sure we met the goal and got the money. We’ll do good things with your money.

      • Eugene says:

        I have kicked in a few pennies.

        PS (somewhat off topic) The email address I sign in here to comment has been forced into retirement. Does it make any difference?

  5. Blake Stacey says:

    Just in case anyone was lacking a sense of urgency:

    The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ webpage regarding climate change’s potential effects on the Great Lakes was scrubbed of references to the word ‘climate’.

    • John Baez says:

      Yes, I was meaning to mention this!

      There’s no particular reason to think this won’t happen at the federal level with noted climate reality denier Myron Ebell in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency transition team, self-described “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda” Scott Pruitt slated to lead the EPA, and “we have been experiencing a cooling trend” Rick Perry slated to lead the Department of Energy.

      In 2011, when Perry was governor of Texas, it was reported that:

      Top environmental officials under Perry have gutted a recent report on sea level rise in Galveston Bay, removing all mentions of climate change. For the past decade, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which is run by Perry political appointees, including famed global warming denier Bryan Shaw, has contracted with the Houston Advanced Research Center to produce regular reports on the state of the Bay. But when HARC submitted its most recent State of the Bay publication to the commission earlier this year, officials decided they couldn’t accept a report that said climate change is caused by human activity and is causing the sea level to rise. Top officials at the commission proceeded to edit the paper to censor its references to human-induced climate change or future projections on how much the bay will rise.

    • Blake Stacey says:

      And it sounds like they’re continuing with the job.

  6. John Baez says:

    Two days after the original announcement, we’ve raised $7916, in 87 contributions ranging from $2000 to $1. One contribution of $2000 and two of $1000 accounted for 1/3 of the total donations, but contributions of $100 or less accounted for slightly over 1/2. I’m sending thank-you notes to everyone. Thanks, everyone!

  7. John Baez says:

    Our progress in backing up data is summarized here. Right now it looks like this:

    Here are the databases that we’ve put on Sakari’s server:

    • NASA GISTEMP website at

    Downloaded by Jan and uploaded to Sakari’s datarefuge server. “This was one of my earliest attempts at replication using wget and so is probably imperfect.”

    • NOAA Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) data at

    Downloaded by Jan and uploaded to Sakari’s datarefuge server.

    • NOAA Carbon Tracker website at

    Downloaded by Jan and uploaded to Sakari’s datarefuge server.

    • OAR datasets from NOAA Research at

    Downloaded by Jan and uploaded to /media/jan-one/ SHA-256 generated.

    • U.S. Forest Service Climate Change Atlas website at

    Copied and placed by Jan at /media/jan-one/ “Completed, with much time spent comparing SHA256 reports.”

    • NOAA ESRL CT2015 Carbon Tracker website at

    Copied and placed by Jan at /media/jan-one/ “Ach! Tried to do a SHA256 recursively on the files in the Windows side of the world. No luck.” “Completed, with discrepancies logged, and no SHA256 calculated.”

    Here are backups on Scott Maxwell’s Google Drive:

    • NOAA sea surface temperature data at

    Put onto Scott’s drive. ~132 gigabytes; SHA-256 checksums made.

    Here are backups completed by Borislav Iordanov, with data put into his own storage space:

    • NOAA Precipitation Frequency Data Server website and ftp site at and

    Completed by Borislav.

    • NOAA NCEI ‘pub’ directory at

    Completed by Borislav

    • National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) website at

    Completed by Borislav

  8. John Baez says:

    Today we’re up to $9,945, almost twice our original goal! Check out our progress here.

  9. John Baez says:

    A librarian at U. C. Riverside wrote:

    you may be interested in a recently-funded project at the University of Colorado Boulder to digitize, preserve, and protect from politically-motivated deletion or destruction a huge swath of historic geoscience data:

    The UCR Library is waiting to hear whether or not we will be granted funding for a planning grant to do the preparatory work to do a similar project with the historic water resources collections that we hold here on campus.

  10. Ian MacKenzie says:

    John, you may already be aware of Canadian collaborators for data preservation, but others may not…

    U of T working with U Penn on #datarefuge

  11. Blake Stacey says:

    The Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor apparently just today posted a link to download their complete resource library. It’s not climate science, but it seems pertinent to the general atmosphere. (They’re not the weather people, but they know which way the wind blows.)

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