Tropical cyclones, also known as typhoons or hurricanes, are one of the world’s most destructive natural disasters. They cost billions in damage each year and affect millions of people.
According to the World Health Organization, in the past 30 years the number of people living in exposed areas has increased by 192 percent, putting more lives at risk when these events occur.
What’s more, as climate change causes ocean temperatures to rise, this could lead to more intense tropical storms, with increased rainfall and wind speeds, resulting in more damage and destruction.
To better protect against these storms, we need to understand how likely they are to occur.
Scientists at Imperial College London have been gathering data about these natural phenomena and have created the world’s first tropical cyclone maps, thanks to the data processing ability of Vodafone Foundation’s DreamLab app.
Predicting storms using DreamLab
Freely available to the public, these maps show the parts of the world that are exposed to tropical cyclone risk, the impact of climate change and better prepare for these disasters.
There is only 40 years of tropical cyclone data that is reliable, but with the help of DreamLab scientists can analyse much larger data sets so we are prepared for where storms will land in future.
This has major implications for infrastructure, healthcare and economic development in areas that will be affected by tropical storms. Using the new maps communities, businesses and governments can prepare better and ensure the right infrastructure is in place to minimise damage.
The power of sleep
Developed by Vodafone Foundation, DreamLab is a specialist crowdsourcing app that accelerates scientific research by using the processing power of smartphones while users charge them at night.
With over 3 million global downloads, the network of smartphones created by DreamLab is equivalent to a virtual supercomputer capable of processing billions of calculations without collecting or disclosing any users’ data.
Already supporting COVID-19 and cancer research, this project, called Imperial College Storm Model (IRIS), is building a comprehensive and statistically robust view of plausible causes that can improve cyclone modelling. The maps will be updated frequently as more model user data is received.
To explore the cyclone maps, head to: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/grantham/research/climate-science/modelling-tropical-cyclones/
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