How Argonne and AT&T are teaming to prepare for extreme weather

Argonne National Laboratory submission
Posted3/29/2019 12:35 PM

Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont has worked with AT&T on a climate resiliency project that officials say will help AT&T better anticipate, prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events.

The high-resolution forecasting insights provided to AT&T by climate and infrastructure scientists from Argonne helped AT&T data scientists develop a Climate Change Analysis Tool that can help anticipate the potential impacts of climate change on AT&T's network infrastructure and business operations 30 years into the future.


"Global climate change does not affect all regions or communities in the same way," said Rao Kotamarthi, chief scientist within Argonne's Atmospheric Science and Climate research group.

"At Argonne National Laboratory, we are using high-resolution models and vast statistical techniques to project climate change at regional, local and even neighborhood scales.

"AT&T applied this detailed information to its infrastructure planning so it can safeguard networks and help ensure resiliency as the climate changes around it."

AT&T is piloting the Climate Change Analysis Tool in the southeastern United States, which has been hard-hit by severe weather and hurricanes in recent years, and is exploring the possibility of expanding the project to include additional regions in the future.

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In coordination with Argonne, AT&T will make Argonne's high-resolution forecasting insights available to the public, including universities, municipalities and others to use in their own climate-risk analyses, which has the potential to benefit entire communities.

"Extreme weather and climate-related events disrupt businesses, public services and communities," said Scott Mair, president of AT&T Operations. "Together with Argonne National Laboratory, we're using industry-leading science and technology to assess the risks of a changing climate to our business so we can make data-driven decisions to better serve our customers and improve our corporate resilience."

The climate modeling done at Argonne has informed infrastructure resilience projects across a number of sectors in different parts of the U.S.

In California, Argonne helped develop models to better plan for wildfire risks to electric utilities. In the Northeast, Argonne scientists helped identify hurricane and sea-level-rise impacts to coastal energy infrastructure.

Argonne also has helped some of the country's largest cities better plan for heat-wave impacts to communities and to the electric grid.

"Contrary to other organizations that focus on large-scale climate models, we are able to go into more detail because we use downscaling methods that focus on North America," said Cristina Negri, Director of Argonne's Environmental Science Division.

"Nowadays, global climate models look at 100-kilometer blocks. We are working at the 12-kilometer scale using downscaling methods, which means we can provide really actionable information to whoever needs to make decisions about infrastructure systems. We're also going deeper than that and we're working on a 4-kilometer-scale model over North America."

For more information, contact partners@​anl.​gov.

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