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NOAA unveils Climate Challenge: an interactive game to build and test climate knowledge

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Have you ever wanted to test your climate prediction skills against the experts’? Now you can! Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) team released Climate Challenge, a new educational online game that invites players to learn more about climate science and to test their knowledge. The game is available at:

Climate Challenge allows players to guess future climate-related conditions, such as the annual Arctic Sea Ice minimum coverage or a monthly average global surface temperature. The game also allows players to compare their answers to the experts’ and, when available, see how both predictions compare to real-world measurements. There will be one climate-related question per month, and whoever comes closest to guessing the actual values will be that month’s winner. For an added twist, participants can also compete against their friends, colleagues, or family members.

The game was inspired, in part, by the New Yorker business columnist James Surowiecki’s best-selling book titled The Wisdom of Crowds, which explores the concept that large groups of people all acting as individuals are, collectively, smarter and better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, and even predicting the future than an elite few — no matter how brilliant the elites may be.

“After reading Surowiecki’s book, I wondered if there might be ‘climate wisdom’ in the crowd when it comes to predicting future climate conditions,” said David Herring, NOAA Program Manager. “This interactive game gives us a fun, engaging and educational way to find out.”

Climate Challenge helps to build climate science literacy by encouraging players to explore online links to materials related to the topics addressed by each game question. Players who want to increase their chances of winning are encouraged to visit the links to gather information that may help them improve the accuracy of their guesses. NOAA’s team will publish the real-world measurements once they become available, as well as short summaries of the methods that the experts used to make their guesses.

The concept for this game was also inspired by the work of Professor Arno Scharl from the Department of New Media Technology at MODUL University Vienna, Austria, who pioneered efforts to combine games with a purpose with new technology designed to analyze the semantics and sentiment of online public media.

“The Media Watch on Climate Change uses the webLyzard Web intelligence platform to analyze environmental news and social media coverage,” explained Dr. Scharl. “Climate Challenge helps to continuously improve the analytic capabilities of this platform, teaching the system how to interpret the meaning and sentiment of words and phrases the way a human does.”

In addition to questions about real-world climate conditions, the game also presents a range of other tasks to earn bonus points and increase the chances of winning. Players can take short climate trivia quizzes, for example, assess the sentiment of terms extracted from recent news media coverage, and pledge to make lifestyle choices that will reduce their energy consumption. Players can earn addition bonus points by inviting friends, colleagues, or family members to play.

So, what can players win? “Mostly, it’s for fun and bragging rights,” said Herring. “But to up the ante a little, we’re also offering a Climate Challenge T-shirt and coffee mug to each month’s winner.” Whoever accumulates the most points over the course of the year will be the grand prize winner, receiving a poster-sized satellite image of Earth.
The Climate Challenge was developed jointly by NOAA and the DecarboNet research project, building upon the uComp crowdsourcing engine. The application is hosted by webLyzard technology and conducted in partnership with WWF Switzerland and the other members of the DecarboNet consortium.

Media Contacts:

Monica Allen
Director of NOAA Communications & External Affairs
NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR)
301-734-1123 (office), 202-379-6693 (cell)
Prof. Dr. Arno Scharl
Department of New Media Technology
MODUL University Vienna
(tel) +43 664 8463919
(twitter) @webLyzard

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