Defra opens up climate change data

Latest step in department’s open data campaign involves using information from Met Office’s supercomputer

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is planning to make climate change data from the Met Office’s high performance supercomputer (HPC) in an open data format.

North Atlantic storms satellite imageIt will use data from its latest national climate model, UKCP18, in its State of the UK Climate report and in the next governmental Climate Change Risk Assessment, scheduled for 2022, which in turn will feed into the National Adaption Programme on preparations for responding to the changes.

Paul Nunn, senior scientific officer for climate change and adaptation at Defra, said the UKCP18 outputs will include plausible ‘storylines’ on how the country’s climate could change, with rainfall projections and simulations of storm surges.

It will provide much greater spatial detail than previously, making it possible to more clearly represent the behaviour of the real atmosphere.

“It is important that UKCP18 provides products that are usable by decision-makers looking to build climate resilience into their policies and plans,” Nunn said in a blogpost.

“The project team is consulting closely with a range of potential users, from government departments to businesses and academics, to help shape the outputs. The final product will appear on a new website, with content ranging from headline messages, maps and other graphical resources through to the raw data for more expert users.”

Re-use policy

The data will be the latest set to be published by Defra in an open data format, reflecting its policy over the past two years of making as much as possible available for others to re-use.

This will involve providing a tiered set of outputs, with pre-prepared information and graphics at the top for users who do not wish to process the data themselves. A data portal will enable people to customise their own graphical outputs, and allow users to download and process the raw data offline, or build new applications and services on the top.

Among the organisations expected to use the data are the Environment Agency and water companies, although it is open for any other organisations or individuals.

At peak performance, the £97 million HPC can complete more than 2 million calculations per second for every person on Earth.

Image: Satellite imagery of North Atlantic storms, from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0