School of GeoSciences Research

Weather and extreme events

Through the use of better data for decision making, we can provide forecasts in near real-time. This work impacts the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, from everyday life and economies through to improving early awareness of catastrophic extreme weather events that can save lives.


Orbital Micro Systems

Hurricane Florence close to the US coast . Gaping eye of a category 4 hurricane. Image elements furnished by NASA

We work in partnership with small satellite technology provider Orbital Micro Systems (OMS) through the Bayes Centre.

Through our research environment and facilities, the analytical wing of OMS transitioned to Edinburgh from the USA in 2018, forming the International Center for Earth Data (ICED) along with the University of Colorado.  

ICED gathers, processes, and delivers weather information from public and commercial sources for researchers, governments and commercial enterprises around the world. It enables our researchers to provide forecasts in near real-time, assisting those working in insurance, agriculture, aviation and shipping.

Using updates on worldwide conditions every fifteen minutes, we use temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure to produce more accurate forecasts.

The output from the ICED is impacting the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world through applications relevant to everyday life.

For example:

  • improved crop yields
  • safer route planning for flights and shipping
  • better land management where forest fires, landslides, and other natural disasters are prevalent.

The collaboration aims to improve warnings and forecasts of extreme weather and natural disasters worldwide, with the potential to save lives.

Collaborative work

Researchers from OMS reside in the University's Bayes Centre and work with our researchers in geosciences, high-performance computing, and informatics to design data and analytics technology for their satellites. The technology is equipped with sensors to gather quarter-hourly updates on global conditions such as temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure. The resulting data stream is interpreted by researchers and delivered to clients across the world to enable near real-time decision making and high-value forecasts.

In 2020, Orbital Micro Systems launched a spin-out called Weather Stream which will be responsible for its stake in the ICED.  Through the ICED platform, Weather Stream will continue to provide innovative and easy to manipulate data sets for government and business customers-including those in the agriculture, insurance, aviation, and maritime sectors-that rely on precise, temporal information to build accurate forecasts. 

Visit the Orbital Micro Systems website

Extreme weather is on the rise

A photo showing several people's legs wearing wellington boots as they wade through floodwaters

From record-crushing heatwaves and wildfires to disastrous floods, human-caused climate change is devastating our planet. 

We have produced world-leading research proving that human-caused climate change has changed both the frequency and severity of extreme weather events.

The latest United Nations IPCC (AR6) report is the most sobering assessment ever on the climate crisis - with major changes already inevitable and irreversible.

Here's what you need to know:

Starkest warning yet - the latest climate report

Extreme weather is on the rise
A group of university students in weather gear walking up a rocky slope towards a glacier in Iceland

Study with us, and join one of the largest and most successful groupings of geographers and geoscientists in the UK as we address the most compelling issues of our time.

The following degrees may be of interest to you:

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