Climate Science? There’s an App For That
By Alana Range
Whether you’re interested in keeping tabs on Arctic sea ice, finding a renewable fuel source close to your home, or monitoring corporations’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, there’s an app for that. We’ve scoured the Web and found ten applications for the iPhone and iPad that can help satisfy your climate science, and other atmospheric science-related, cravings. In a follow up piece we’ll also discuss apps for the expanding Android market.
Cost: Free (for a limited time)
You can explore dozens of frequently updated global databases of earth science facts and figures by using Columbia University’s Earth Institute's new app. Visualization tools make it easy to explore maps detailing ice sheets, ocean salinity, human footprint indexes, or atmospheric composition (to name a few). Amazingly, you can zoom into street level or harbor scales in almost all content. Most data is updated at least monthly.
Participate in the latest climate science debates with this app, which is based on John Cook’s popular blog, and designed by Shine Technologies. You can browse discussions by "skeptic arguments" ("it’s not happening," "it’s not us," "it’s bad") or "top ten most used arguments against manmade climate change." Skeptical Science is aimed at countering what Cook and many others see as erroneous climate science claims. For every skeptic argument, Cook offers a peer reviewed science article refuting the claim, and links to graphs, papers, and other sources. You can use the app to report arguments you’ve heard, and send it all directly to Twitter using a handy ‘tweet’ button. The climate science skeptics have their own app as well, called Our Climate, which is priced at 99 cents and set up like a mini climate encyclopedia.
Shop with climate change in mind using this app that ranks major companies based on how well they’re doing in addressing climate change. ClimateCounts uses a scale of one (poor) to 100 (good) to determine how far along major companies are towards the goal of measuring and reducing their climate change impact, supporting climate change legislation, and clearly disclosing climate change-related actions and liabilities to their shareholders and clients. The ranking database covers more than 2,000 popular brands, so you can shop smart for everything from footwear to burritos. If a company’s ranking influences your buying choices, you can instantly send the company a message through the app to let them know.
Track temperature trends in your area, or anywhere in the United Sates with this app from Climate Source Inc. Use Google Maps or your zip code, city, or state to pin point your location in the U.S., and the app will display a 30-year climate average for your area. You can email any of the data directly from the app and bookmark locations you want to visit frequently.
Join a network of emissions-conscious drivers with this app designed to help you get to and fro more efficiently. Find car shares or alternative fuel stations (like E85 or electric vehicle charging stations) in your area by using Goggle Maps or your Zip Code, map your way to the stations, and view and update fuel price information.
6) Arctic Watch
This small but focused app does one thing very well: it allows you to track daily sea ice coverage values on both poles of the planet. Access to Arctic data is free, and access to Antarctic data is for a one-time 99-cent fee. The data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is displayed in the form of satellite photos, graphs, and numbers so you can track ice coverage in your favorite way, and the latest version of the app offers a trend-curve viewer for viewing the last two years worth of readings.
Keep tabs on which parts of the U.S. are being affected by drought, and obtain access to drought forecasts with this handy image-heavy app. Data comes directly from the National Weather Service and allows you to check soil moisture, fire risk, and 30-day precipitation forecasts for anywhere in the U.S. Images are updated as a the Weather Service provides data.
Ever wonder how much wind energy potential your backyard has? Or what about the top of your local ski slope? This weather app from Vestas, the wind turbine manufacturer, takes the local weather from the place you choose and calculates the wind energy capacity of the area, based on one of their wind turbine models. In addition, you can customize weather reports for your favorite locations. Data is updated every six hours.
There are tons of weather apps, including specialized ones for viewing only satellite and radar imagery. For the casual weather consumer (i.e. most of us out there), a free app will suffice for figuring out what to wear in the morning. But for the hardcore weather junkie, RadarScope from Base Velocity offers real-time, professional-level national radar data from NOAA’s Doppler radar network. Pinpoint the landfall of a hurricane’s eye wall, or track the severity of a building thunderstorm with data that’s updated every five to ten minutes. Tornado, severe thunderstorm, and flash flood warnings issued by the National Weather Service are one of the newest features in this version. Select from one of 140 radar sites, or pinpoint your own location. Download and animate a series of radar images with a simple ‘play’ button interface. The only downside (besides the price) is the app doesn’t support data for Guam, Alaska, or Hawaii.
10) Climate Mobile
Want to do your own climate science? Climate Mobile, from Geo Optic Inc., gives you a "Personal Climate Analyzer" that lets you crunch data from weather stations and satellites around the world, and gives you access to NOAA and NASA temperature records from the past 130 years. You can graph data, create charts, and compare variables with Climate Mobile's built in tools. If you make a research breakthrough, you can email it to yourself with an easy click. The app also offers educational tutorials to beef up on your general knowledge, as well as tutorials to aid your data analysis.