Digest: Recent Data-Driven Research and Innovation

Chase Walz
Jan 7 · 5 min read
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Photo Credit: Joshua Sortino

The realms of industry and academia can often feel like separate worlds. On one hand, industry can offer the promise of rapid innovation, personable products, and eye-catching marketing techniques. Meanwhile, academia can provide thoughtful ideological development, thorough research, and groundbreaking discoverings. However, both of these realms, especially in the fields of climate and environment, have been steadily integrating available data towards finding cutting-edge scientific discoveries and innovations.

At Planet OS, we have large pools of accessible data and are currently developing strategies to transform this environmental and climate data source into tools for both industries and leading figures in academia. So, as a way to explore discoveries in the field of environmental and climate science, and to showcase how data can be applied within research methodology, we are releasing a digest of groundbreaking data-driven publications.

Check out the list of research publications compiled below containing recent and exciting developments in the field:

Stories and Publications

Locally Sourced Power as a Solution to Energy Grid Instability

This past October, over 750,000 California residents had their electricity frequently shut off by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in an effort to reduce wildfire risk from active transmission lines. During dry and windy conditions, these transmission lines pose a threat of igniting a flame. The solution? UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director in the California Institute for Energy and Environment’s Electric Grid program, Alexandra “Sascha” von Meier discusses a multi-customer microgrid. Thus, instead of a central power provider like PG&E, she explains how customers could share more independent solar resources and energy storage among multiple households on a city block. According to von Meier, these systems would be largely independent of large scale shutdowns and more fire safe.

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Source: Hans Gutknecht via Getty Images

Climate-Related Uncertainties in Urban Exposure to Sea-Level Rise and Storm Surge Flooding: a Multi-Temporal and Multi-Scenario Analysis

Researchers and professors John Radke, Yiyi He, Sarah Lindbergh, and Yang Ju analyzed the flood risk to urbanized areas from climate change-induced sea-level rise and intensified storms. They chose the densely populated San Francisco Bay Area as a case study. The team projected the city’s flood areas every 20 years between 2000 and 2100, under 24 varied climate scenarios with two greenhouse gas (GHG) concentration levels. Through this, they emphasized the need for coastal urban areas to take initiative with climate-related uncertainties and to be proactive when developing strategies and policies for climate change adaptation.

Anthropogenic Influences on Major Tropical Cyclone Events

This research team applied convection-permitting regional climate model simulations to investigate how the intensity of tropical cyclones has changed in relationship to industrialization. Their findings revealed that relative to pre-industrial conditions, climate change so far has enhanced the average and extreme rainfall of hurricanes Katrina, Irma, and Maria, but did not change tropical cyclone wind-speed intensity.

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Source: Christina Patricola and Michael F. Wehner

Achieving Lowest Cost Universal Electricity

Researcher at Oxfam America, James Morrisey, recently published this paper that creates a comparison of least-cost electrification models. Through this comparison, he aims to make progress towards making electricity cheaper and eventually achieving universal, sustainable electricity. In his paper, he explores how new technologies have lead to a decrease in the cost of renewable energy but can be potentially problematic for large scale electrification planning.

The Influence of Climate and Housing Developments on Current and Projected Fire Patterns and Structure Loss Across Three California Landscapes

This research team used data to develop a modeling framework to compare the importance of climatic and human variables for explaining fire patterns and structure loss for various California landscapes. They then projected future large fire and structure loss probability under two different climate (hot-dry or warm-wet) and two different land use (rural or urban residential growth) scenarios.

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Source: Alexandra Syphard, Heather Rustigian-Romsos, Michael Louis Mann, David Ackerly, Erin Conlisk, and Max A Moritz

A Rapid Assessment Method to Identify Potential Groundwater Flooding Hotspots as Driven by Sea Levels Rise in Coastal Cities

This UC Berkeley based research group used empirical depth-to-water data and a digital elevation model of the San Francisco Bay Area to construct an interpolated surface of estimated minimum depth-to-water for 489 square kilometers along the San Francisco Bay shoreline. This rapid assessment approach identified key locations where more rigorous data collection and dynamic modeling is needed to identify risks and prevent impacts to health, buildings, and infrastructure, and develop adaptation strategies for Sea level rise.

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Source: Kristina Hill, Ellen Plane, Christine Lynn May

Environment or Food: Modeling Future Land-Use patterns of Miscanthus for Bioenergy Using Fine-Scale Data

Using fine-scale panel data and an econometric model, this research group predicts land-use change in the Midwestern United States if a new bioenergy crop, Miscanthus × Giganteus (miscanthus), is introduced. They conclude that miscanthus can help mitigate climate change by displacing oil usage without causing food conflict.

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Source: Lunyu Xie, Lunyu Xie, Sarah L. MacDonald, Maximilian Auffhammer, and Peter Berck

It’s no secret that with the modernization of technology, data is collected with more ease and is increasingly readily available. The impact of this increase in information quantity and quality means researchers have more accessible information and analytical tools to answer, explore, provide insight, and provide solutions to various questions and issues that exist in our society today.

Our team is excited to collaborate with researchers and industries alike to utilize data sources to provide clear answers, compiled facts, and statistics for reference or analysis.

The Planet OS Datahub makes it easy to build data-driven applications and analyses by providing consistent, programmatic access to high-quality datasets from the world’s leading providers. If you are interested in the types of resources that the Datahub provides, but cannot find the dataset you need, please don’t hesitate to contact us via Slack or email. Many of the datasets made available through the Planet OS Datahub have been at the request of our users. For more information check out the Planet OS Datahub.

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