Please note that the details of this Challenge are no longer open. This challenge is awarded and is no longer accepting new submissions. You can:
Challenge <p>Sub-Seasonal Climate Forecast Rodeo</p>

Sub-Seasonal Climate Forecast Rodeo

STATUS: Awarded
Active Solvers: 275
Posted: Dec 20 2016
Challenge ID: 9933764
Team Project Rooms are available on this Challenge. Team Share Challenge Share

Skillful sub-seasonal weather and climate forecasting has proven to be particularly difficult but is of great interest to water managers. Sub-seasonal forecasting, spanning approximately 15 to 45 days in the future, is difficult because it bridges short-term forecasting, where initial conditions primarily determine upcoming weather, and long-term forecasting in which slowly varying factors such as sea surface temperatures and soil moisture become more important.

This Challenge seeks to improve on existing sub-seasonal forecasts and asks Solvers to develop systems that perform demonstratively better than an existing baseline forecast for temperature and precipitation over a 15-42 day time frame. Solvers will have three months to develop their system, at which point they are asked to provide forecasts every two weeks over a 13 month period, with the first month being a “pre-season” to become familiar with the submission and evaluation processes.

Prizes may total up to $800,000. Four categories are defined by two forecast outlook periods and two forecast variables (temperature and precipitation). In each category, prizes for eligible solvers are as follows:

1st place - $100,000

2nd place - $50,000

3rd place - $25,000

In addition, one $25,000 prize per category may be awarded to an eligible solver based solely on hind- performance, submission of which is a requirement to be eligible for the above listed prizes.

PLEASE NOTE: This Challenge will remain open on for approximately 17 months, and while registration will be possible for the duration of posting the practical deadline for registering will be May 13, 2017. This is approximately two days prior to the deadline for the third forecast submission after which no new forecast submission accounts will be created and late-registering Solvers will be unable to upload the required forecasts. ADDITIONALLY: Solver InnoCentive usernames will be shared with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of the forecast evaluation process and leaderboard tracking, and will appear on a publically available leaderboard to track Solver performance.

This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge that requires written documentation, proof-of-concept data, source code, and delivery of an executable application.

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Eligibility Requirements

This Challenge is being conducted under the authority of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (15 U.S.C. § 3719). The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 states that awards for this Prize Competition may only be given to an individual that is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, or an entity that is incorporated in and whose primary place of business is in the United States, subject to verification by the Seeker before Prizes are awarded.  Further restrictions apply – see the Challenge Specific Agreement and the Federal Register Notice for full eligibility details.

Note: Submissions can be entertained from all Solvers regardless of whether they are U.S. citizens/entities. Meritorious submissions from non-U.S. citizens and entities as well as U.S. citizens that may not be prize eligible (see Challenge Specific Agreement and the Federal Register Notice) if any, will be recognized in publications issued by the Seeker announcing the results of the competition, such as press releases.  Non-U.S citizens/permanent residents or non-U.S entities can also be included on U.S. teams. However, under the authority of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (15 USC 3719), the Seeker cannot award prizes — whether monetary or otherwise — to individuals that are not U.S. citizens, not permanent residents of the U.S. or entities not incorporated in and maintaining a primary place of business in the U.S.


Improved sub-seasonal forecasts for weather and climate conditions (lead-times ranging from 15 to 45 days and beyond) would allow water managers to better prepare for shifts in hydrologic regimes such as the onset of drought or occurrence of wet weather extremes. The challenge with sub-seasonal weather and climate forecasting is that it encompasses the time frame where initial state information such as coupled land-atmosphere processes becomes less important and slowly varying long term states such as sea surface temperature, soil moisture, and snowpack become more important to predictions. In addition, the relative importance of the initial state versus longer term state depends on the lead time, region of interest, and time of year.

A brief video describing this Challenge can be found here:

This Challenge is asking Solvers to develop systems that improve upon existing sub-seasonal temperature and precipitation forecasts. Solvers are not required to develop entire systems from scratch; methods could include but are not limited to approaches for improving existing sub-seasonal forecasts, techniques that leverage climate teleconnections, or statistical models.  This Challenge will be active for approximately 17 months, starting with a 3-month development period followed by a 1-month “pre-season”, and a 12-month competition period. Following the competition period, Solvers will have 1 month to prepare final submissions. During the competition period Solvers will be required to upload sub-seasonal forecasts every two weeks. An online leaderboard hosted by the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) will track and display Solvers’ performance for the duration of the competition period. Please note that InnoCentive usernames will be shared upon Solver registration for this Challenge with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of the forecast evaluation process and leaderboard tracking, and will appear on a publically available leaderboard to track Solver performance.

At the conclusion of the competition period a final submission is required. Final submissions to the Challenge should include the following:

  1. The detailed description of the proposed Solution addressing specific Technical Requirements that are presented in the Detailed Description of the Challenge. This description should be accompanied by a well-articulated rationale for the proposed Solution.
  2. Locally executable application and corresponding source code to implement the proposed Solution that are well documented.
  3. Proof-of-concept data obtained as outlined in the Detailed Description of the Challenge.  

The Challenge award is contingent upon theoretical evaluation and operational validation of the submitted Solutions by the Seeker.

To receive an award, the Solvers will grant to the Seeker a non-exclusive license to practice their solutions and make the solution available as open source software licensable under either BSD or GPL Open Source license. See the Challenge Specific Agreement for full details.

Final submissions to this Challenge following conclusion of the forecasting portion must be received by 11:59 PM (U.S. Eastern Time) on May 24, 2018. 

Late submissions will not be considered.



The Bureau of Reclamation is collaborating with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to design and judge this competition.  The Bureau of Reclamation is an agency of the U.S. Federal Government with a mission to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public (


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) co-led the design of this Challenge along with Reclamation. NOAA will also host the leaderboard and assist with evaluating the submissions. NOAA’s mission includes science, service and stewardship. Specifically, NOAA aims to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts; to share that information and knowledge with others; and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources (

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) contributed subject matter experts to review and assist with the design of this Challenge. The mission of the USGS is to serve the Nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life ( The mission of the USACE is to deliver vital public and military engineering services; partnering in peace and war to strengthen our Nation’s security, energize the economy and reduce risks from disasters (

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