Copernicus - Supporting cities with data

Half of the world’s population now lives in cities, with the number of people living in cities expected to double by 2050. While cities are dynamic places that spur creativity, collaboration and invention, work is still needed to make them resilient, sustainable and safer for all their inhabitants. This year’s World Cities Day is focused on the innovations that can bring these improvements for future generations.

To commemorate the day, we are looking at the ways data from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Union, are being used to make and improve products that contribute to a better life for city-dwellers in Europe and the rest of the world.

Air Quality Data for Urbanites

Poor air quality leads to 7 million premature deaths globally every year, including hundreds of thousands in Europe alone. The nature of cities is that they combine high population densities with low-quality air, but tools are available to help residents plan to avoid the worst effects.

CAMS generates forecasts for various atmospheric components that can affect human health, including particulate matter, pollen, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide. Anyone can view the global and European forecasts on the CAMS website, but they are also used as inputs for a variety of external services and applications offering air quality data to the public.

These applications include the weather visualisation service Windy, which is used by about 800,000 people every day and offers forecasts for a selection of conditions, including  cloud cover, wave swell, temperature, wind speed, and, since June of this year, air quality, the latter based upon CAMS forecasts. The partnership with Windy allows CAMS data to reach a wide audience in an easy-to-use and engaging format.

Other projects incorporating CAMS air quality data include Plume Labs’ Air Report App, which can help users plan their day to avoid poor air quality in​ over ​380,000​ ​urban​ ​areas​ ​of​ ​the​ ​world, including the homes of up to 3.8 billion people. Some projects are more specifically targeted, such as airTEXT, which supplies forecasts for London, UK and Riga, Latvia, including text and email alerts for poor air quality.

Supporting Future Planning for Cities

From its start, C3S has aimed to assist those planning for city life in the more distant future. The Urban SIS, one of the prototype demonstrator projects for the Service, aimed to show the potential of C3S to provide responsible for urban infrastructure with projections of some of the impacts that climate change might have in the future: intense rainfall, heatwaves, and extreme air pollution.

As C3S has matured applications and tools have come online furnishing data on a wide range of phenomena.  “We are providing high resolution information on how the climate change will impact cities,” says Carlo Buontempo, Director of C3S. For example, the European Health Service provides information on the suitability of various cities for the survival of Aedes albopictus (tiger mosquito or forest mosquito) based upon their current climate. As these insects can spread diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya virus to humans, this is crucial information for those tracking their spread through Europe.

Other C3S contracts support planning for future-proof cities by looking at the effects of climate change on water resources, the energy sector, and coastal flooding from storm surges. As more of these services come online in the Climate Data Store it will become an even more invaluable resource for all those who design and plan urban environments.

Source: Copernicus - Supporting cities with data