understanding climate risk by
connecting information

Aims and Principles

Connected information. ClimateNode takes information on possible climate risks and impacts from newspaper articles, reports and scientific papers and links them to topics — places, industries, assets and hazards. This information is stored in a particularly flexible type of database called a graph database. Over time, the information on each topic builds and new topics emerge, forming an expanding, increasingly sophisticated topic map of global climate risk and impacts. A sample of the information is collated and displayed on the geographical map. This process aims to offer a detailed, nuanced and human picture of risks and impacts by matching people's lived experience (via media reports) with scientific information.

Respect for science. There is a need for good quality information which neither exaggerates nor downplays the risks of climate change. However, we all know that objectivity can be difficult for such an emotive subject. ClimateNode aims to summarise the scientific research relevant to each topic accurately and objectively, and invites researchers to get in touch if any summaries relating to their field of research could be improved. Please note that ClimateNode does not credit itself with or offer scientific expertise; it simply compiles and presents information.

Scope and scale. The project aims to shed light on physical climate risks, impacts and responses around the world at different geographical scales, typically from asset to national level. It is taken as self-evident that concepts of 'welfare' and 'asset' should encompass natural resources and processes, health, security and other social and public goods. ClimateNode looks for information which is as geographically and sectorally specific as possible. Our concept of 'climate risk' encompasses that of the business and financial community, but is not limited to it. The project examines small and great risks and impacts affecting any population or sector, not just those which would be the focus of commercial interest.

Multicausal approach. Understanding climate risks and impacts in a particular location often means understanding how both climate and non-climate drivers interact. Examples of non-climate drivers and hazards could include subsidence, deforestation and upstream changes to rivers. Risks and impacts could be amplified if they take place in a context of political instability, or dampened by adaptation efforts. Impacts may also themselves lead to knock-on or unforeseen consequences, or be caused by multiple factors interacting in complex ways (as with wildfire). ClimateNode seeks information on factors which could exacerbate, dampen or even simulate climate risks and impacts, taking a multicausal approach by default.


Helen Jackson is an environment and natural resource economist with many years' experience researching climate change, energy and environmental issues for government, the private sector and multilateral institutions. She has worked on assessing asset-level climate resilience with green finance pioneers the Climate Bonds Initiative, and was one of the first people to work in the world-leading climate and energy practice of consultancy Vivid Economics (now part of McKinsey). She has also worked for the Economist Intelligence Unit, written for Prospect and is cited by the Rough Guide to Economics. Originally trained as a physicist, Helen started out expecting to be a climate scientist, picking up coding skills during space and atmospheric physics research projects as a student. She has an Advanced Diploma in data modelling, incorporating database design, from Oxford University. linkedin twitter

Dr Elliot Christou is a data scientist with a background in theoretical physics at University College London. He is interested in using artificial intelligence to solve complex real world problems. He provided the foundations of ClimateNode's natural language processing capacity as part of the Faculty AI Fellowship programme in autumn 2020. He is now a data scientist at the Connected Places Catapult. linkedin