Telling the Data-Driven Climate Story

Most would agree that climate change comes with some serious repercussions. The US department of defense, for example, includes it as one the greatest threats to the future of national security [see more at 2014 Quadrennial Security Review]. But, it is also really difficult to comprehend. This is partly due to the historical requisite of sifting through enormous, intricate, and, at times, incomplete datasets. This process is tedious, at best, and, at worst, blocks progess. The Planet OS Datahub makes working with weather and climate data much easier by eliminating the frustrating and time-consuming tasks of wrangling quality data. Our API provides easy access required to assess and solve many of today’s leading climate questions.

This week, we have added to the Planet OS Datahub The Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications, Version 2 (MERRA-2), a robust dataset covering some of the more important variables responsible for and affected by climate change.

MERRA2 is a retrospective analysis or reanalysis, meaning it is a comprehensive set of different weather observations bundled into a global weather modelling system. MERRA2 provides continuous and homogeneous meteorological insights from 1980 onwards and is continuously updated.

Reanalysis systems like MERRA2 are generally considered to be the easiest way for getting homogeneous weather data, because the data assimilation system of the model can easily handle changes in observational coverage.

Compared to similar datasets from ECMWF, NOAA and others, MERRA2 has two outstanding features, which may make it of particular interest to our customers in the environmental field.

First, it contains corrected precipitation fields. While other model systems have precipitation insights derived from short term forecast models, MERRA2 has precipitation that is actually corrected with observations.

Second, MERRA2 uses aerosol data assimilation and includes a dynamic aerosol model. This means that the dataset makes available realistic 3D aerosol distribution over the modelling period. Dust, black carbon, and sea salt are available at model levels over the 38 year period, giving researchers a really easy tool for analyzing aerosol distributions in the climatological time scales.

MERRA-2 is a great resource for someone looking to investigate pollution, air quality, drought, and other environmental issues. From a business use case perspective, MERRA-2 provides a lens into understanding how changing precipitation levels might influence crop yield, or, in the case of atmospheric carbon concentration, how it is affected by carbon emission standards over time.

As always, if you have any questions or ideas around how this dataset can be used, please feel free to reach out. We always enjoy hearing about how people are applying these datasets in their own applications and research!


Want to learn more about the Planet OS Datahub? Simply create a free account and try it out! Have additional questions or need help getting started? Join our Slack channel to connect with our team or contact us via the chat tool on the website.