Thursday, 13 January 2011

Earth Networks to provide much needed climate change data

AWS Convergence Technologies, the company behind WeatherBug, which I commented on back in November, is moving beyond global weather observations into more extensive environmental monitoring capabilities. Renamed Earth Networks, it’s aiming to become a major provider of data on the overall health of the planet.

In collaboration with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Earth Networks is initially deploying a greenhouse gas network that will observe and measure atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane gases. By combining that data with its existing global weather information the company will be able to provide detailed global environmental data. Over time, the company will implement additional sensor networks that measure other environmental factors such as air quality, water quality, wind and pollution.

Earth Networks will initially deploy 100 GHG observing systems worldwide, beginning with 50 in the continental US, followed by deployments in Europe and beyond. The density will allow it to track localised GHG emissions and changes.

The network will enable the measurement, reporting and verification of greenhouse gas levels and emissions to support international and regional climate policy initiatives. The data will be made available to the research community, policy makers and private industry, so companies will be better able to make business decisions that have environmental dependencies.

At the same time, Earth Networks is establishing the Earth Networks Center for Climate Research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, part of the University of California, San Diego.

It’s certainly something that’s needed. Coincidentally, a recent study of the financial services industry showed that the current availability of, and access to, climate change information is inadequate, both in format and quality.

The study was sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and was based on an international survey by the Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and the Sustainable Business Institute (SBI), Germany. The full report is here.

A total of 60 institutions took part and the study confirmed the increasing financial relevance of climate change and the fact that financial institutions need better information on changing weather patterns. Financial service providers and their customers are already affected by the impacts of climate change, e.g. by extreme weather events, and insurers, reinsurers, lenders and asset managers expect these kinds of risks to increase in the future.

 

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Respondents expressed a strong need for better access and availability of climate information to enhance climate change-related risk management. ‘Given that financial institutions are able to influence their clients and investee companies across all sectors of the economy and throughout geographies, they can play a key role in accelerating the implementation of adaptation measures by the private sector more broadly’.

‘The better the knowledge and expertise regarding climate change and its uncertainties though, the better these risks can be calculated. This can be crucial not only to the performance of individual businesses and financial institutions, but to the entire economic tissue of affected regions as well as the social well-being it underpins’.

 

As I’ve said before, climate change and weather monitoring are going to be an increasingly significant part of green ICT, with data fed directly into business planning and process applications. The downside to global business is that it is vulnerable to global disruption, which is what climate change will bring (if it isn’t to blame already).

© The Green IT Review

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