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A Startup Could Reveal How Climate Change Will Affect Your Business in 50 Years

Climate change predictions are headed to the private sector.

Patrick CaughillFebruary 28th 2018

Climate change is already wreaking havoc on coastlines around the world, with increasingly powerful storms causing unprecedented damages to these areas. Meanwhile, other regions have to battle more frequent wildfires, exacerbated by warmer, drier summers.

Governments and security experts are increasingly concerned that climate change will contribute to humanitarian crises in the future. But businesses are keeping an eye on long term environmental changes too. For example, if a coastal region was predicted to be completely eroded by 2050, companies would not want to invest in new beach resorts there.

Silicon Valley startup Jupiter plans to tap into this emerging market, using advanced technologies to predict the extent of climate risks for paying customers. The company was founded tech entrepreneur Rich Sorkin with some of the most illustrious names in climate policy, including former United States Special Envoy for Climate Change under the Obama Administration, Todd Stern.

Speaking to the New York Times, Scott Hodgkins, an executive at one of Jupiter’s early adopters, Xbec, said: “if we could have reliable predictive analytics in this area, that’s a huge impact for our business.”

Risk management companies have been including climate change in their scenarios for some time now, however their projections are not as site-specific as what Jupiter aims to offer. And public data is not a great alternative either. Typically, information provided by the federal government deals with short term weather predictions, so while public bodies have a vast collection of climate data, they don’t use it to make predictions. Efforts to incorporate climate change into flood maps are currently vastly underfunded by Congress.

Jupiter will be merging this public information with a variety of other data sources to round out its predictions. The company has developed a cloud computing tool to run multiple climate change prediction models simultaneously.

These models crunch data generated from millions of sensors around the world and in space. The real-time results will then be merged with information about the layout of the area, including hyper-local variables such as the state of the water infrastructure in a particular city. As a result, the company is hoping to provide customers with detailed maps of how climate change will impact a region up to 50 years in advance.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Sorkin said: “our ability to chain together multiple models in the cloud in a statistically rigorous way, allows us to go much, much faster — from both a development and deployment perspective.” He added that the service “lets you go from one customer in one city to hundreds to thousands of customers all over the world fairly quickly.”

Right now, Jupiter offers two products called FloodScore and HeatScore, which monitor the risks of increasing rainfall and impending heatwaves, respectively. Jupiter will be looking to expand into the realm of wildfires with FireScore, set for release later in the year.

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