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What ICT Can Do for Climate Change Adaptation

ICT as the cornerstone of observation and monitoring for predicting and forecasting climate change

Top: Simulation on forecast of global annual average air temperature distribution (year 2100)
Change in temperature is displayed with the 19th century as a standard (0℃). If temperatures rise, color becomes the red end of the spectrum, with white areas showing increases over 10℃.
Bottom left: Earth Simulator (Photo: JAMSTEC)

A range of observation and monitoring data is required to predict and forecast complex changes in climate.
At present, we have at our disposal sensor technology that measures a variety of environmental changes over a range of locations. ICT is being utilized in every part of the process of compiling this huge quantity of data from these sensors in real time to forecast potential future events due to these changes. There are many familiar examples, including weather forecasts from data on the movement of clouds and precipitation conditions captured by meteorological satellites. NEC contributed to the development of the supercomputer, "Earth Simulator", that predicts planet-wide temperature changes up to the year 2100. It is well known that these results were utilized by the IPCC in making forecasts on climate change.

A variety of sensor technologies—the source of information collection

Illustration of monitoring of forest resources

NEC provides solutions that use a variety of sensors for a diverse range of business areas, from satellites to the sea floor. For instance, with sensors equipped on satellites for global-scale observation, we are now able to see a great amount of information on the earth's water cycle, vegetation conditions and air temperature, as well as on atmospheric composition, sea surface temperature, snow precipitation and thickness of ice.
On the ground as well, sensor technology is already routinely used in familiar locations, from sensors that observe fundamental environmental data such as air temperature, water temperature, humidity and CO2 concentration, to those that measure minute vibrations, sounds, light and electric current.

Collecting sensor data to create big data

The value of data observed by sensors is heightened by looking at significance from temporal and spatial perspectives. In order to convert this data into valuable information, scattered observational data must first be collected in one place. It is here that network and cloud technologies become necessary, as does the big data technology to extract meaningful information from the enormous amount of data collected. Database software is required to accumulate with high reliability the huge volume of observation data generated with each passing moment. Further, as the volume of data being handled is very large, the capacity for high speed processing takes on great importance.
NEC possesses a series of products, software, services and technologies to collect observation data from sensors via networks, and to process large volume big data at high speeds.

The analytical technology to elicit valuable information from big data

Big data will only be linked to value if it is used in proactive measures to predict and forecast future changes. However, specialized knowhow and skill is required for information analysis. NEC possesses high level skill and knowhow in information analysis, as represented by our facial recognition technology that ranks number one in the world. For instance, NEC has developed technologies and systems that effectively utilize big data. These include our invariant analysis technology, which makes highly precise predictions and carries out anomaly detection by automatically detecting multiple regularities from big data that are difficult for humans to detect, as well as our heterogeneous mixture learning technologies. By utilizing a variety of sensing data from the global environment and social infrastructure, we can respond to concerns regarding the impacts of climate change, such as disasters, water and food shortages, infrastructure breakdown, damage to health and other risks. We can provide value in preparing for risks, such as prevention and advance countermeasures, as well as enable optimal and efficient use of resources.

Image of Contributions to climate change adaptation utilizing ICT
Image of Creation of social value at NEC

Frameworks for ICT-based contributions

Overall, the following four processes must be carried out to utilize ICT to respond to the risks of climate change.

1. Observe the state of social infrastructure and the global environment via sensing, 2.  Accumulate various observation data in the cloud (big data), 3. Analyze big data and ascertain forecasts and predictors, 4. Based on forecast and prediction results, enact countermeasures in advance linked to preparing for risks and optimal use of resources

By repeating this cycle, we can realize optimal use of resources and contribute to preparing for risks.

"Adaptation" contributes to "mitigation"

Adaptation is also linked to mitigation. For example, as a response to water shortages, one risk of climate change, an adaptation measure to prevent leakages, which account for an average 10% in the world's major cities, is also linked to CO2 reduction, as preventing leakage renders the energy to newly produce and distribute water unnecessary. Further, if the magnitude of damage in a disaster when the disaster is envisioned in advance and preparations made, is compared to a case where no preparations are made, the environmental burden for recovery is striking smaller. In other words, enactment of adaptation measures is also linked to mitigation measures.
To date, NEC's climate change responses have focused on mitigation, namely reduction of CO2 based on the provision of ICT solutions. While continuing to strengthen our mitigation efforts, we will aim to also contribute to climate change adaptation measures through solutions for society. We will move forward with our new environmental management goals to make a CO2 reduction contribution equal to 5 times the CO2 emissions of our entire supply chain by fiscal year 2020.

What NEC can contribute to The eight risks of climate change

Risk of death, injury, ill-health, or disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones and small island developing states and other small islands, due to storm surges, coastal flooding, and sea level rise.

Link to Damage caused by rising sea levels and storm surge in coastal areas

Risk of severe ill-health and disrupted livelihoods for large urban populations due to inland flooding in some regions.

Link to Damage caused by flooding in urban areas

Systemic risks due to extreme weather events leading to breakdown of infrastructure networks and critical services such as electricity, water supply, and health and emergency services.

Link to Breakdown of infrastructure and other societal functions due to extreme weather events

Risk of mortality and morbidity during periods of extreme heat, particularly for vulnerable urban populations and those working outdoors in urban or rural areas.

Link to Death and ill health caused by heat waves which particularly affect vulnerable groups in urban areas

Risk of food insecurity and the breakdown of food systems linked to warming, drought, flooding, and precipitation variability and extremes, particularly for poorer populations in urban and rural settings.

Link to Threat to food security caused by rising temperatures and drought

Risk of loss of rural livelihoods and income due to insufficient access to drinking and irrigation water and reduced agricultural productivity, particularly for farmers and pastoralists with minimal capital in semi-arid regions.

Link to Loss of livelihood and income in rural areas due to insufficient water resources and reduced agricultural productivity

Risk of loss of marine and coastal ecosystems, biodiversity, and the ecosystem goods, functions, and services they provide for coastal livelihoods, especially for fishing communities in the tropics and the Arctic.

Link to Loss of marine ecosystems that are vital to coastal water areas

Risk of loss of terrestrial and inland water ecosystems, biodiversity, and the ecosystem goods, functions, and services they provide for livelihoods.

Link to Loss of services provided by terrestrial and inland water ecosystems

  • Source:
    Report form Working Group Ⅱ: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerabilityin
    the 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change)