It can be hard to really understand the big ways our world is changing: with climate change being the biggest example. To help make it easier to understand, and predict, the changes in our climate, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has partnered with and the DecareboNet research project to give us the Climate Challenge.

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Climate Challenge is a single-player online game that lets you pit your predictions about climate change against the opinions of experts across the world and compare them with our observations about the real world around us. You can guess the annual Arctic Sea Ice minimum coverage or the monthly average global surface temperature. And don’t worry – it’s not cheating to research to find the best answers – indeed, it’s the goal.

There are new questions every month, and you can see how you’re doing compared to experts, your friends, and “the crowd.” Also, there are prizes for winning each month.¬†And with one question, whoever comes closest to guessing the actual values wins prizes.

Now, this is not just a fun game (although it is bizarrely fun to play). The program is also gathering information about “The Wisdom of Crowds” to see if there is climate wisdom in the crowd. It’s hard to get people to participate in government surveys about their thoughts about climate change. It’s easier to get people to play a game. Especially when there is winning.

But it is critical to get more citizens involved in these kinds of programs. When we better understand the scope of a problem, and we feel personally engaged in government – that is to say, our – attempts to solve that problem, we’re more likely to find great solutions. And when we can do it through a game? All the better.

“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.”

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