Jump to Content

Announcing the Climate Innovation Challenge—grants to support cutting-edge earth research

April 18, 2022
Justin Keeble

Managing Director for Global Sustainability

Emma Fish

Head of Global Public Sector Solutions and Government Programs

At Google, we believe that when it comes to solving a problem as big and urgent as climate change, we get more done when we collaborate. From beekeepers in Germany to urban foresters in Los Angeles, we support the work of nonprofits, scientists, and organizations that are working to mitigate the impact of climate change globally, and increase communities’ resilience to its effects.

To this end, we are proud to launch the Climate Innovation Challenge, which will provide Google Cloud research credits to advance a better understanding of climate resilience and promising solutions to address urgent climate challenges. I’m excited about this launch. We need to get smarter about the inevitable impact of our changing climate and how it will reshape our lives, supply chains, and business. Sustainability is a business-critical agenda, and we need intelligent technologies, leadership, and collaboration to drive industry transformations and reach a net-zero world.

The innovation and scale required to solve the toughest climate challenges will come from technology. At Google Cloud, we're working across industries to increase climate resilience, applying cloud technology to help solve key challenges in the fight against climate change. Nonprofits, scientists, and organizations will be key in developing new research and innovations that will help us better understand how we can accelerate action on climate.

Through the new program, individual climate researchers in higher education and not-for-profit research organizations can apply for Google Cloud credit grants of up to $100,000 to accelerate their projects with Google’s state-of-the-art, data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) cloud services, such as Google Public Datasets like the one from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Whatever you use these research credits for, you can combine the products and services with tools like Earth Engine (EE), Google's planetary-scale platform for Earth science data & analysis, which remains free of charge for nonprofits, academics, and research use cases. We will work with specialist partners in environmental organizations, agriculture, and carbon reduction to help evaluate proposals and select participants. Our first partner is the National Science Foundation (NSF) AI Institute for Research on Trustworthy AI in Weather, Climate, and Coastal Oceanography (AI2ES). Alongside the cloud credits, we will also provide researchers with access to technical training and mentoring, to help jumpstart their work.

From idea to insight to impact

In 2021, researchers at 500 universities in 47 countries received Google Cloud research credit grants. Others received funding through the Google Cloud Research Innovators Program, which promotes collaboration among a global cohort of scientists and provides them with professional opportunities and technical expertise. Here are some of the Research Innovators who have already advanced their climate research with Google Cloud research credits:

  • At CalTech Tapio Schneider and his team built Climate Machine, a next-generation open-source Earth System Model that will integrate more earth and atmospheric data than ever before.
  • At the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Jonghyun Lee conducts numerical modeling for water resources with Google Colab.
  • At Technical University in Dublin, Santos Fernández Noguerol runs functions to collect weather data from governmental agencies, then automatically stores them in Google Cloud Storage buckets for future spatial analysis.
  • At the University of Colorado at Denver, Farnoush Banaei-Kashani conducts data science projects with applications for Intelligent Transportation and Earth Sciences.

Other researchers in the new cohort are among the thousands of academics using EE free of charge:

  • At UCLA, Bo Zhou uses EE for remote sensor modeling to help bureaus of land management make conservation decisions.
  • At the University of New England, James Brinkhoff conducts spatial and temporal analysis for agriculture crop modeling and water use with data from EE.
  • At Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Richard Fernandes is developing the LEAF toolbox to map and assess vegetation with satellite data from EE.
  • At the University of Toronto, Yuhong He uses EE to map changes occurring in natural and managed ecosystems systems using remote sensing, machine learning, and ecosystem modelings.
  • At UCLA, Henry Houskeeper uses machine learning with EE’s satellite imagery to automate detection of kelp forests.

To apply for a Climate Innovation Challenge grant, click here and include "Climate Innovation Challenge" as the first line of your proposal. We will announce additional focus areas, partnerships, and recipients throughout the year. Click here to learn more about Google Cloud sustainability.

Posted in