Today at the COP 17/CMP 7 Climate Change Conference in Durban the World Bank released a series of high resolution climate datasets designed to aid the planning of development projects. This data is available at climate4development.worldbank.org.
This is the first time the World Bank has released this climate data in a truly open format, making it simple for people to download and use it. It is also the first time it has been visualized in sharable, interactive maps. By making this data easy to access and understand, the World Bank aims to drive home the urgency of reacting to climate change at the meetings this week in Durban.
At its core, the data shows the dramatic change in climate that is expected to occur in the next century for a broad audience. In scenarios assuming unmitigated climate change, we are headed for an overall worldwide warming of more than 5°C (9°F). According to the World Development Report 2010, this change amounts to the difference between today's climate and the last ice age when glaciers reached central Europe and the northern United States. By any scenario made available by the World Bank, it is clear that climate change is a reality that needs to be taken into account, especially when it comes to long term decisions in international development.
The map below shows projected temperature changes by 2100 in the more pessimistic scenario out of the two published by the World Bank. It contains roughly 700,000 data points revealing average temperature changes (map color) and changes broken down by month, including a certainty indication by showing the 10th and the 90th percentile of the predicted averages as popups.
Projected temperature changes by the year 2100 according to Scenario A2.
Even following more optimistic scenarios, temperature and precipitation changes will significantly impact vulnerable croplands and grasslands, and disasters will likely change in frequency and severity. These predictions have serious implications, particularly for the most vulnerable developing countries, not in the least due to their economies' high dependency on agriculture. For example, 30 to 50 percent of the GDP of sub-saharan countries is based on agriculture, compared to only one to three percent typical of developed countries.
Croplands that will be affected by temperature changes, predicted to impact almost all croplands to some degree.
Change in agricultural yields vs. the percentage GDP Value Added by agriculture, with large bubbles indicating a country's higher economic vulnerability.
All climate data published by the World Bank is available for download in the site's open data section, climate4development.worldbank.org/open, and available in both shapefiles or mbtiles file formats. Using the Mapbox API, maps can be accessed programmatically and quickly combined into new maps. Maps can also be easily embedded into other sites by simply copying and pasting the embed code right from the map itself.
A complete overview of available climate data can be found on data.worldbank.org's Open Data Resources for Climate Change.
Climate apps challenge
To promote the use of climate data in international development the World Bank launched an Apps for Climate challenge, which kicks off this week in Durban and runs through March 16, 2012. In the coming weeks, we'll blog about the data massaging and design decisions behind the maps on climate4development.worldbank.org. We hope that some of the insights we have gathered are helpful to others who are about to use these impressive datasets.
In the meantime, check out the climate change data and visualizations on climate4development.worldbank.org.