Risk Analysis and Optimization with Weather Data


From meeting fluctuating customer demands and scheduling services, to proactively optimizing workflows to minimize risks in case of extreme events, weather-related data represents a huge asset

This post may describe functionality for an old version of CARTO. Find out about the latest and cloud-native version here.
Risk Analysis and Optimization with Weather Data

Weather is intertwined in the fabric of our lives. Much of the time  its impact is passive - we keep an umbrella in our desk  we check it to determine our outfit. Sometimes  that impact is active  pronounced  and global in scale  with major weather events in 2018 costing the United States upwards of $1.6 trillion. Either way  those impacts permeate  affecting the choices and decisions we make as individuals  organizations  governments  and as a global community.

For businesses  understanding the impact of weather and climate  and interpolating future  weather-related challenges is crucial. How do weather conditions and seasonal shifts impact consumer behavior? What risks do weather events pose to your efficiency  to your supply chain  to your workforce? For answering these questions  weather-related data represents a huge asset.


Changing Temperature Map

Data like this is even more important in the era of man-made climate change. As reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  although many weather events are the result of natural climate variability  it is well recognized that climate change may lead to changes in the frequency  intensity  and spatial extent of weather extremes. Businesses and organizations need to minimize the financial and physical damage risk posed by these changes.

To that end  we're thrilled to announce the inclusion of premium datasets from Weather Source in our Location Data Stream Catalogue. Weather Source is the leading provider of global past  present  forecast and climatology weather data  and turn-key weather based solutions. Drawing on cutting-edge science  data analytics  and meteorological expertise  Weather Source has  since 2015  been delivering the industry's most comprehensive and accurate weather & climate data  enabling companies to quantify the impact of weather on business functions and to reduce waste  increase return on investment  fine-tune logistics  optimize marketing strategy  improve resource planning  and much more. Datasets now available in CARTO include:

  • Past weather data from the year 2000 to present
  • 10 and 15-day weather forecasts
  • Global climatology data providing weather statistics such as weather means  standard deviations and frequency of occurrence values for any location and any date and/or hour during a calendar year.

Covering all land masses up to 200 miles offshore  Weather Source data can be provided at both daily and hourly temporal resolutions. These datasets are available for any collection of latitudinal or longitudinal points and aggregated for geographic areas such as postal codes  metropolitan statistical areas  and other administrative regions.

Weather Source products are generated from multiple data sources such as the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) for the historical and climatology products and the Global Forecast System (GFS) for real-time data and forecasting. These products are then coupled with Weather Source analysis tools  used to identify  for example  any errors or gaps in the data  producing highly accurate weather data at any location of interest.

 {% include icons/icon-bookmark.svg %}  Want to start incorporating new data streams and spatial analysis into your work? Get started with CARTO today!

Applied Weather Source Data for Analysis

In order to understand the impact of extreme weather events such as heat waves  droughts  tornadoes  and hurricanes  it is useful to look at the patterns of some of these events using Weather Source data and CARTOframes.

During the last week of June 2019  Europe was struck by a heatwave. The event broke a number of historical records at distinct locations in several countries (a record of 7°C was measured at the 4810m high Mont Blanc summit). This event  in contrast to typical heatwave events that occur in mid-summer  caused many disruptions to both school and professional activities. In France  the government decided to postpone one national exam. In Switzerland  heat damage to train tracks caused several delays. And in Rome  civil security distributed free water to tourists.

To better highlight June 2019 temperatures (at 2 meters above the surface) compared to past values during the same period of the year  we plotted daily anomalies  given by the difference between the actual values and the average values over the 2000-2015 period (climatology).


As we can see from the map  very large positive anomalies appear across all of central Europe  especially in central and southern France.

Although it might seem counterintuitive in a warming climate  extreme cold weather events also occur  carrying impacts on human health  the physical environment  and energy and resource consumption. In late January 2019  a severe cold spell hit the United States and Canada  killing at least 22 people. As we can see from the below map  which shows the temperature (at 2 meters above the surface) on January 31  2019  all midwestern states and the northeast of the United States show dangerously cold conditions.


Although there are fewer studies available and less consensus around changes in the characteristics of cold spells  a growing body of research has highlighted ways in which rapid Arctic warming can lead to colder winters  more extreme heatwaves  and even droughts and floods across North America  Europe and Asia.

As for weather extremes  hurricanes have an even more deadly impact on our society. It's currently hurricane season and while these storms occur naturally  there is evidence that human‐caused climate change is supercharging them and exacerbating the risk of major damage  powered by increasing sea surface temperatures.

This was seen recently with hurricane Dorian making landfall in the US after devastating the Bahamas. Only a year ago  hurricane Florence generated massive flooding  killing 22 people and causing $24B in damage in the Carolinas. In the animated map below  we can watch as hurricane Florence approaches the coast on September 14th  2018 just south of Wrightsville Beach  North Carolina  and see increases in precipitation  cloud cover  and relative humidity (at 2 meters above the surface).

Precipitation Visualized

Cloud Cover Visualized

Relative Humidity Visualized

Although the causes behind hurricane Florence are still debated  the ultimate question is what can we do to bolster our protections and reduce destruction  damages  and deaths resulting from future catastrophes  given the likelihood that global warming will make hurricanes even worse in the future. Now  Weather Source data and CARTO can help your business or organization in tackling this challenge.

Get Started with Modern  Up-to-Date Data Streams

Learn more about CARTO's location data streams today  and start incorporating data from WeatherSource  and other high-quality data sets into your models and spatial analyses today.

Special thanks to Mamata Akella  CARTO's Head of Cartography  for her support in the creation of the maps in this post.