The 19th century American novelist Charles Dudley Warner is best known for his quip “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it”—which was later made famous by his writing partner, Mark Twain, who used it in speeches.
More than a century later, the global container shipping giant A.P. Møller – Maersk is taking a step in that direction by throwing its weight behind an initiative to improve weather and climate research. In order to help meteorologists around the globe gain the precision data they need to make better forecasts, Maersk is using 50 of its ships to transmit climate data to scientists in near real time.
According to Maersk, it has been contributing weather reports from its hundreds of ships for years within the global Voluntary Observing Ship (VOS) Scheme under the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), but the previous manual procedure resulted in a slow data-sharing process. To address that, Maersk has now installed automated weather stations (AWS) on 50 of its vessels, creating a “pulsating oceanic web of weather and climate observations,” the company said.
The new AWS stations will deliver precise, standardized data in real time, provided to the National Meteorological Service of Germany and shared globally with members of the World Meteorological Organization.
Scientists will use the information both for weather forecasting and for developing climate-change models. And yes, Maersk stands to benefit too. The results could help the carrier improve its “weather routing” to avoid storms and other threats and thus, help ensure the safety of its crews and cargo.