Fearing Trump, Coders Back Up NASA Climate Data

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Wired has a fascinating story about coders who are backing up NASA climate data and keeping tabs on changes to U.S. government websites:

Like similar groups across the country—in more than 20 cities—they believe that the Trump administration might want to disappear this data down a memory hole. So these hackers, scientists, and students are collecting it to save outside government servers.

But now they’re going even further. Groups like DataRefuge and the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, which organized the Berkeley hackathon to collect data from NASA’s earth sciences programs and the Department of Energy, are doing more than archiving. Diehard coders are building robust systems to monitor ongoing changes to government websites. And they’re keeping track of what’s already been removed—because yes, the pruning has already begun….

One coder who goes by Tek ran into a wall trying to download multi-satellite precipitation data from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Starting in August, access to Goddard Earth Science Data required a login. But with a bit of totally legal digging around the site (DataRefuge prohibits outright hacking), Tek found a buried link to the old FTP server. He clicked and started downloading. By the end of the day he had data for all of 2016 and some of 2015. It would take at least another 24 hours to finish.

The non-coders hit dead-ends too. Throughout the morning they racked up “404 Page not found” errors across NASA’s Earth Observing System website. And they more than once ran across databases that had already been emptied out, like the Global Change Data Center’s reports archive and one of NASA’s atmospheric CO2 datasets.

And this is where the real problem lies. They can’t be sure when this data disappeared (or if anyone backed it up first). Scientists who understand it better will have to go back and take a look. But meantime, DataRefuge and EDGI understand that they need to be monitoring those changes and deletions. That’s more work than a human could do.

Rad the full story.

  • Search

    Watching the hyperventilating ninnies scurrying about is getting funnier by the day. “Do not attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by simple stupidity”. If they can’t find a data set it is FAR more likely that NASA’s data management lost it than it being purposely deleted. Doubt me? Look up the story of how cronies put in charge of OPM ignored repeated warnings of their system vulnerabilities before the infamous door left open data transfer of the personal info of all Federal employees.

  • Pete Zaitcev

    Too bad they weren’t there when arch-liberals destroyed the raw climate data at University of East Anglia.

  • Tom Billings

    Now, now, those weren’t arch liberals, …those were the employees of arch liberals in the elected government, who knew what was best for their careers, as long as sufficiently progressive ministers ran the ministry they reported to. We must be more precise in our definitions if we ever expect scientists to have sufficient backbone to tell their employers what those employers do not want to hear.

  • James

    Holy crap dude have all of ya’ll lost it? I don’t like the guy but Jesus ya’ll act like he’s a damn mastermind arch Villain.

    Dude, ya’ll got beaten by the damn greatest used car salesman of all time. He had and has little clue on what he is doing, where he is going, and what to do when he gets there. Ya’ll literally put up the worst possible candidates against him possible.

    All of this after YEARS of using the power of the government to threaten and silence anyone who stood in your way or disagree’d with you. The left used the government and media to make everyone be politically correct and then just kept pushing.

    All trump had to do was actually tell people he believed their side and they were in his pocket, Then all ya’ll had to do was attack him and he became more powerful.

    BUT….Liberals are still in charge of 99% of the US government. WTF are you worried about? You have absolute power.