Sunday, March 24, 2024

World Meteorological Day + Weather Forecasting

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Earth & Space Science, Earth Systems, Models, Science & Society, Children

Ed Hessler

Coincidentally, as we head into a complex weather pattern which includes snow, rain, even some thunder and lightening depending on where you live in Minnesota, it is one day past World Meteorological Day which is acknowledged every March 23.

The material is engaging and multifaceted. This year's theme is "At The Frontline of Climate Action."  
The opening page includes a listing of past themes to 1961. This is below the link to the World Meteorological Day website. If you take the climate pledge link you can hear a young child playing the role of a TV reporter with a forecast for 2050. It is one of several forecasts that were made.
Too much to view at one sitting but scan it to see what you might be interested in. 
And speaking about meteorology, over at "Our World in Data" there is an interesting article on weather forecasting by Hannah Ritchie.  Here are a few items to get you started.

--There is a capsule history of improvements since 650 BCE. Here are two recent examples. The UK's Meteorological Office (Met Office) "says its four-day forecasts are now as accurate as its one-day forecasts were 30 years ago And in the U.S. "predictions have gotten much better. We can see this in some of the most important forecasts: the prediction of hurricanes."

A chart on the "track error" or the accuracy on where it hits, "especially for longer-term forecasts has decreased a lot over time. In the 1970s, a 48-hour forecast had an error between 200 and 400 nautical miles (~ 230 and 460 miles or ~ 370 and 790 kilometers; today this is around 50 nautical miles (~57 miles or ~97 kilometers)."

Another chart based on numerical weather models for both the southern and northern hemispheres from "the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)". Since the 1980s "three-day forecasts have been pretty accurate. Today the accuracy is around 97%.

Three-day forecasts have been pretty accurate since the 1980s, and have still gotten a lot better over time. Today the accuracy is around 97%. The biggest improvements...are for longer time frames. By the early 2000s, 5-day forecasts were “highly accurate” and 7-day forecasts are reaching that threshold today. 10-day forecasts aren’t quite there yet."

The improvements have happened because "the data has improved, computers have gotten much faster, and improvements made in how these data are communicated." 

It should not be surprising that "low income countries have much worse forecasts, and often no early warning system. In a world where climate change is having impacts "making (improvements) available to everyone (will be even more important as climate change increases the risks of weather-related disasters. It is ultimately the poorest, who are the more vulnerable, who will suffer the worst consequences. Better forecasts are key to good climate change adaptation. 

Ritchie closes with comments on emerging technologies that may accelerate this noting that closing the gaps will require "proper investment and financial will be essential." Unfortunately, she says nothing about what she means by "proper investment."

These items are discussed in the essay, providing necessary details and information I've not included. The essay is also well-linked to further your digging in. and there are many useful links.  Read the essay.


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