This new app can tell you about the climate in 2100
The EarthSystemData app, backed by scientific data, lets you look at global climate change projections
The recent special report on global warming by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a grim warning of the future our planet is headed towards. The report, released earlier this month, reiterates the urgent need to limit the increase in average temperatures to 1.5 degree Celsius. Humans have until 2030—a mere 12 years from now—to limit global temperature increase, beyond which the impact of warming will become irreversible and catastrophic.
It is, however, important to understand how global climate works and changes. Keeping this in mind, Craig Wallace, a University of East Anglia scientist, has developed an app that lets users explore global climate change projections.
Using scientific data from the US-based National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), the app gives a monthly or 10-day global summary of actual and expected climate conditions of any town or city in the world. Users can choose to see data on rainfall, temperature, minimum temperature and maximum temperature in the two summary formats.
“The motivation was to make it easier for non-specialists to access the same data that scientists are using to monitor and predict global climate change," says Wallace, co-founder and lead climate scientist, EarthSystemData, over email. “The app assembles and plots the very latest climate conditions and lets users explore the same climate predictions that governments are using to plan for decades ahead. It is one of the world’s first apps to do that," he adds.
The projections are made by a statistical methodology derived from current global climate circulation models (GCMs), according to the app website. GCMs are a type of computer-driven models for weather forecasting, understanding climate and projecting climate change. These models simulate the effects of natural and man-made impacts on the Earth’s climate for future years. It is just like putting numbers into a mathematical formula to derive an answer. Only here, numerical values are replaced with atmospheric and climate data.
“There are two parts to the app: 1, what is happening now; and 2, what will happen in the future. For 1, the app shows you where the planet is currently warmer or colder than normal for the latest 10 days, and the last month. For 2, the app gives you predictions for the 2040s, 2060s, and 2080s. For all parts you can retrieve information for any global town or city, in any country," Wallace explains.
It might take users some time to get used to the app—the interactive visuals of the globe take some time to render, depending on internet speeds— but EarthSystemData’s web interface works well.
Wallace explains that while the current version is designed primarily to make the information suitable for the general public, more features will be added in the future and at that stage it will be possible to expand into content geared towards more professional uses. “A priority for us is to re-invest in the product so we can add more interactivity to the content—and particularly expand the detail of the future forecasts. One area which is a priority for our users is seasonal forecasting and we have the infrastructure and data streams now to plan for adding these features," Wallace adds.
The app is available on Android and iOS for a 30-day free trial, after which the charges are £2.99 (around ₹ 280) a month. For more information, visit Earthsystemdata.com.