Can climate change impact be forecast for business?
Weather forecasts, once essential to family farms, are only accurate for a few days. For longer-range forecasts, 21st-century agribusiness has set aside almanacs and now relies on sophisticated calculations and technology.
As global temperatures rise, more types of businesses will review climate change forecasts when making investment and operational decisions. What will be the consequences? When and where will they occur?
Such climate calculations are exponentially more complex than weather. The metrics range from atmospheric particulate counts and gas concentrations to deep water chemistry, temperatures and currents. Those complex factors will bring an impact that reverberates for decades.
Most climate change models set a baseline at current weather conditions and project shifts in ocean current, Arctic ice thicknesses, and atmospheric temperature increases. Run repeatedly, the models reveal cycles that vary with the seasons and forecasts of carbon fuel use, deforestation, and other human activity.
The current models produce conflicting general trends. Some show rainfall increasing across the Midwest. Others project a decrease. None can predict weather regionally, on specific days, 30 years into the future.
A Danish engineering firm, Ramboll, now analyzes data that concerns specified risks at specified locations. Flooding risk might be quantified for a planned shipping terminal. The potential for difficulty at a farm, based on its choice of a crop, could be estimated. Other applications include floodplain mapping, urban drainage systems, storm surge protection, and planning for sustainable communities.
As tools more clearly and reliably predict climate risk, demand for them will increase. Greater use and more data will lead to refinements in climate risk management. More business and government organizations will find and benefit from its value.