14 August, 2014
How Big Data Helps Us Cope With Climate Change
It may not be raining cats and dogs, but the weather certainly hasn’t been tame or consistent lately. And, yes, everybody’s talking about it. This last winter was the coldest in the Midwest and the record warmest in California … which is now in the throes of an extreme drought. It’s a weird world of weather we’re living in.
As storms, hurricanes and floods are getting more extreme, meteorologists are leveraging big data to more accurately predict and pinpoint climate events. Natural disasters — stemming from both climate and geological events — create more than $200 billion in losses each year. While some disasters, like earthquakes and tsunamis, are geological events hard to foresee, we can get a better handle on weather prediction, at least, saving lives and dollars in the process. Take Superstorm Sandy, for example. Though the hurricane was destructive beyond belief, forecasters were able to determine the landfall within 10 miles of its location, allowing for millions of people to prepare and evacuate; back in the 1990s, we could only predict hurricane landfall within 345 miles. Precision is key.