As I note in Wednesday’s Times, the company that brought the world WeatherBug is making what would seem a rather natural move into greenhouse gas monitoring — and pioneering a whole new market in the process.
The company, formerly known as AWS Convergence Technologies but rebranded as Earth Networks as of today, is already a giant in the weather business — providing meteorological data to governments, businesses, research facilities and the media for nearly 20 years.
It gives some of that information away, of course, via consumer-facing, ad-supported Web sites, widgets and mobile apps (some of which have irked users over the years). The more granular data — the sort of stuff that would be useful, say, to an energy company or to local governments — is for sale.
And with more than 8,000 weather monitoring stations, Weather Bug is a powerful player in the weather information business, drawing over 30 million visitors a month. In October, ComScore ranked WeatherBug 34th among the top 50 Web properties in the United States.
But is anyone going to buy greenhouse gas data? Earth Networks clearly thinks so, given its $25 million, five-year investment in an array of 100 sensors — and it’s probably not a bad bet.
After all, even if Republicans are promising to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, a variety of international and regional agreements to do just that already exist.
Most experts think it’s an inevitability that more such agreements will follow in coming years — and a crucial component will be having a way to objectively verify that states or countries or regions are actually reducing their emissions as prescribed. That, of course, would require a far denser matrix of monitoring sites than are currently deployed around the planet. Earth Networks clearly reckons it can make a buck by getting ahead of the game and starting to provide just that sort of granularity.
Casual WeatherBug users, meanwhile, will also get some fun new data to play with — including the ability to view real time charts and maps tracking plumes of methane and carbon dioxide at various monitoring sites. So far just two sensors are installed, including one at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California (Scripps is working closely with Earth Networks to develop and deploy the greenhouse gas monitoring system).
The live data feed from that station can be viewed here.
from the NYT