An interesting discussion on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, essentially noting that if it weren’t for the pandemic, we would all surely be talking about the weather. As Professor Liz Bentley (CEO of the Royal Meteorological Society) noted, the UK has had the wettest February since records began (in 1862), followed by the sunniest Spring since sunshine records began (1929).

Professor Tim Palmer, a climate physicist from the University of Oxford, said that attributing the recent extreme weather to climate change isn’t simple, as the climate is globally interconnected.

Two of the most interesting points from the discussion:

1. He noted that the weather wasn’t just odd in the UK; although the global average temperature increase was 0.63 degrees, some areas were much warmer than normal – up to 10 degrees higher in Siberia and Antarctica.

This illustrates one of the central drivers behind the AirSensa business – that the impacts of climate change (and pollution) are highly localised – you can’t understand how any place or activity will be affected by computing averages.

2. Professor Palmer also suggested that if $2bn were spent on supercomputing in a new centre for climate studies, climate modelling would be much better as we ‘already know the physics’ but lack the computing power; and that additional modelling capability would give people what they really want to know, which is what the localised weather will be (in the coming weeks or two).

While more computing power would always be welcome, modelling – however finely executed – will always be hampered by the relative lack of data we have today around the world.  And in any case the weather is only one element of the threats we all face. 

This is why we are building AirSensa – to generate far deeper and wider datasets that could feed the demand for modelling (including the one that Professor Palmer wants) and, more importantly, to provide true hyperlocal data across a wide range of factors to gain the insights needed to help people, businesses, and investors understand and adjust to how pollution and climate change are impacting the world.

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