Geert Jan van Oldenborgh
The EMS Technology Achievement Award 2021 was presented to the late Geert Jan van Oldenborgh to honour him for the development of the KNMI Climate Explorer. This is an immensely useful application making high-quality climate data sets easily accessible and uniquely allowing for direct climate analysis and climate education in a web browser environment.
“When I made the site public over twenty years ago, one of my goals was to give climate researchers all over the world access to climate data and analysis tools. I am very happy that it has succeeded in that. I use it almost every day for my own research as well, which helps in keeping it up-to-date in spite of its age.” (Geert Jan van Oldenborgh)
The Climate Explorer
The KNMI Climate Explorer is a web-based application providing easy access to climate data. The application offers data from regularly updated observations, reanalyses and climate model experiments along with data manipulation and analysis tools. Users can upload (their own) time series and fields and analyse the data, possibly after data reduction. The selected data sets can be reduced by spatial options, interpolation or taking regional or temporal averages and extremes. Analysing the data can be done on the Climate Explorer server and the smaller, actually needed, files can be downloaded. Time series can be analysed, and visualisations and regressions can be done quickly and conveniently. Routines for extreme value analysis and applications using climatic model output data are easily accessible.
The KNMI Climate Explorer is a mature development, and is heavily used by climate scientists. It provides great benefit to numerous climate researchers worldwide, it increases the study of actual climatic processes which leads to a much better understanding of climate change. It also helps in the education process of up-and-coming young scientists. Thousands of users from around the world access the site every month and take advantage of a web browser environment that makes data from the Climate Explorer easily accessible.
Geert Jan van Oldenborgh
The KNMI Climate Explorer was initiated around 2000 by Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, who maintained and expanded it until his death in October 2021:
“The many questions we received on the effects of El Niño on the weather world-wide led me to set up a simple tool to make correlations of station time series with ENSO indices, which grew into a local web site and afterwards the public web site KNMI Climate Explorer (David Stephenson suggested I make it public and coined the name). I reinstated the earliest (1999) home page from the wayback archive at https://climexp.knmi.nl/history/.” Extract from the Interview of Hans von Storch and Sjoukje Philip with Geert Jan published earlier this year:
- von Storch, H., and S. Philip, 2021: Geert Jan van Oldenborgh – approaching truth in a sea of noise and data deficiencies. Academia.edu, 21. January 2021
Myles Allen and Karsten Haustein on Geert Jan van Oldenborgh: “It is unusual to be able to call someone an ‘unsung hero’ of climate communication, but we believe this title belongs to Geert Jan. He has worked tirelessly throughout his career to promote understanding of our changing climate across a broad range of audiences, from his scientific peers, through graduate students and researchers across the full range of the geosciences, to policymakers at all levels of government and members of the general public. Geert Jan’s work on the Climate Explorer in particular has played a crucial role in promoting direct access to climate data for everyone both inside and outside the specialist climate research community.
In an increasingly fragmented field, the importance of this service cannot be over-stated. […]. It is a particularly valuable resource for researchers in emerging economies with limited access to computing or data-storage resources. For researchers in disciplines from anthropology to zoology, Climate Explorer provides their first introduction to weather and climate data of any kind.”