Unidata to Mint NFTs of Popular Storms

Hurricane Katrina NFT
Artist's rendering of a Hurricane Katrina NFT
(click to enlarge)

Everyone loves to talk about the weather. But until now, serious collectors of weather memorabilia have been left on the sidelines. Oh, a lucky few manage to save enormous hailstones in their freezers, but most are limited to screen shots of satellite or radar imagery, or maybe articles clipped from the local newspaper.

But never fear: Unidata is preparing to bring weather collectibles into the twenty-first century by minting a series of Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) based on significant weather events. Our inaugural series will consist of 902 distinct NFTs of Hurricane Katrina, one for each millibar of the storm's lowest recorded atmospheric pressure.

Historic Storms on the Blockchain

Weather enthusiasts have traditionally been early adopters of new technologies, and the move to collectible NFTs is no different. “We feel compelled to help our community move smoothly into this exciting new technological space,” says Unidata Director Mohan Ramamurthy, explaining the program's initiatives to reduce time to crypto by providing systems that demonstrate modern blockchain workflows for the geosciences. “By encapsulating Unidata's high-quality data streams in NFT form, scientists, educators, and students can be sure they have access to verified unique data about historical weather events,” he continues.

While NFTs like the Pringles CryptoCrisp or real estate in the Metaverse may give the impression that the whole concept is just silly, Unidata hopes to demonstrate (see the artist's rendering above) techniques for putting the smart in smart contracts, and that blockchain technology can be used for serious science.

Avoiding Environmental Impacts

Seeking to avoid the environmental impacts associated with cryptocurrency operations, Unidata engineers have pioneered an NFT creation workflow that greatly reduces the need for computing power and the associated energy requirements. The new process consists of:

  1. A member of the Unidata Program Center staff locating a netCDF file containing relevant historical storm data in Unidata's archive.
  2. Applying a simple initial typograhical transformation, inverting the case of the letters "netCDF" to produce "NETcdf."
  3. Applying a second typographical transformation, removing the lowest arm of the "E" to produce an "NFTcdf."
  4. Uploading the resulting NFTcdf to the soon-to-be implemented Climate-and-Forecasting-focused blockchain trading platform OpenCF.
Data Hallway
Unidata Data Hallway: Plenty of computing power.

Note: Unidata's process is currently not well suited to conversion of GRIB or BUFR files.

Unidata Program Center systems administrator Mike Schmidt is confident that the computing power gathered in Unidata's Data Hallway will be sufficient for the task. “We upgraded our NUC equipment to an Intel i7-based system during the data blockage of 2021” says Schmidt. “We're pretty sure it can handle changing a few letters around to create NFTcdfs.”

Unidata is hopeful that the OpenCF trading platform will progress beyond its current conceptual stage quickly, and that the Hurricane Katrina NFTcdf series will be available by April Fool's Day, 2022.

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