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Have forecast models improved considerably since 2010?

  • 15-07-2018 2:48pm
    Registered Users Posts: 17,797 ✭✭✭✭

    Didn't want to hijack either of the chart threads by asking this. I've been interested in weather since I was a kid, but I only got interested in the forecasting of Irish weather specifically in 2010 when we had that epic, epic snowfall :D

    Is it my imagination or has Fantasy Island either become more reliable, or been pushed out further into the future than it used to be? Officially, we still regard FI as anything beyond 120hrs, but it strikes me that this summer and indeed last winter, it seems to have been more accurate than it used to be. It's not so much "fantasy" island anymore as "uncertainty" island - still by no means a sure thing and subject to total change from one model to the next, but at least as far as Winter '17-'18 and Summer '18 have gone, we've had more technical discussion here in the FI threads and such discussion has been bang on the money for what eventually happens far more often than being totally off the wall inaccurate, like the FI threads I remember from the early years of this decade.

    Is this just my perception and random chance, or is it perhaps that the atmospheric setups we've had this year are just less subject to rapid change, and thus easier to forecast in general? Or have the models actually gotten better, such that the FI boundary is no longer at T120 but possibly out a little further?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,425 ✭✭✭ZX7R

    For me the UK model has improved considerably since I got interested in weather,so much so the UK m.o are issuing long range weather outlooks time in boards weather it was nearly egnored.
    Gsf had additional parameters added a few years ago at that time it went very wobbly and wasn't to be trusted,put over the last two years has started to catch up on the ECM. for me the ECM is the go to model.i like Japanese model also

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,453 ✭✭✭✭sryanbruen

    Certainly not recently! :P

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 1,706 Mod ✭✭✭✭star gazer

    Help is at hand :)
    Aeolus wind satellite
    N° 21–2018: ESA’s Aeolus wind satellite launched

    22 August 2018

    ESA’s Earth Explorer Aeolus satellite has been launched into polar orbit on a Vega rocket. Using revolutionary laser technology, Aeolus will measure winds around the globe and play a key role in our quest to better understand the workings of our atmosphere. Importantly, this novel mission will also improve weather forecasting.

    Carrying the 1360 kg Aeolus satellite, the Vega rocket lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 21:20 GMT (23:20 CEST, 18:20 local time) on 22 August.

    Some 55minutes later, Vega’s upper stage delivered Aeolus into orbit and contact was established through theTroll ground station in Antarctica at 00:30 CEST on 23 August.

    Named after Aeolus, who in Greek mythology was appointed ‘keeper of the winds’ by the Gods, this novel mission is the fifth in the family of ESA’s Earth Explorers, which address the most urgent Earth-science questions of our time.

    “Aeolus epitomises the essence of an Earth Explorer. It will fill a gap in our knowledge of how the planet functions and demonstrate how cutting-edge technology can be used in space,” said Jan Wörner, ESA Director General.

    ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Josef Aschbacher, added, “Aeolus carries the first instrument of its kind and uses a completely new approach to measuring the wind from space. Such pioneering technology has meant that it has been a demanding mission to develop, but thanks to all the teams involved we are thrilled that this extraordinary satellite is now in orbit.

    “We look forward to it living up to expectations!”

    Highlighted by the World Meteorological Organization, the lack of direct global wind measurements is one of the major deficits in the Global Observing System.

    By filling this gap, Aeolus will give scientists the information they need to understand how wind, pressure, temperature and humidity are interlinked.

    This new mission will provide insight into how the wind influences the exchange of heat and moisture between Earth’s surface and the atmosphere – important aspects for understanding climate change.

    Aeolus carries one of the most sophisticated instruments ever to be put into orbit. The first of its kind, the Aladin instrument includes revolutionary laser technology to generate pulses of ultraviolet light that are beamed down into the atmosphere to profile the world’s winds – a completely new approach to measuring the wind from space.

    While Aeolus is set to advance science, it will also benefit society. Although weather forecasts have advanced considerably in recent years, Aeolus will provide global wind profiles to improve the accuracy even further. In addition, its data will be used in air-quality models to improve forecasts of dust and other airborne particles that affect public health.

    The satellite is being controlled from ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. Controllers will spend the next few months carefully checking and calibrating the mission as part of its commissioning phase.

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,976 ✭✭✭✭Akrasia

    Space lasers eh??

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 1,706 Mod ✭✭✭✭star gazer

    The wind satellite launch had been delayed by... wind but so far looking good after the delay.
    24 August 2018

    Having worked around the clock since the launch of Aeolus on Wednesday, teams at ESA’s control centre in Germany have declared today that the critical first phase for Europe’s wind mission is complete.

    The Aeolus satellite was launched on a Vega rocket in the evening of 22 August from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. With a launch mass of 1360 kg, including 266 kg of fuel, Aeolus will be the first-ever satellite to directly measure Earth’s winds from space.

    Carrying one of the most sensitive instruments ever put into orbit — Aladin, a Doppler wind lidar — Aeolus will provide vital information on wind speeds around the globe. This information is expected to improve weather forecasting as wind plays a complex and pivotal role in global weather systems.

    Originally planned to be launched on 21 August, liftoff was delayed by 24 hours, as, ironically, high winds meant it was unsafe to launch the satellite.

    Scarce wind observations around the launch site near the Southern Caribbean Ocean mean forecasts in the region are less accurate than in more populated regions, highlighting the need for more advanced wind models.
    Wind mission next phase begins

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  • Registered Users Posts: 14,235 ✭✭✭✭M.T. Cranium

    All I can say for certain is that they have improved since 1980 (beyond 72 hours).

    I think the rate of improvement has been somewhere between miniscule and steady-state since about 2000.

    The problem for assessment is that different weather patterns come with different types of uncertainty so it's rather a case of comparing apples and oranges, one year might seem improved over its predecessor but it might all be down to the degree of difficulty of two regimes, rather than any advances.

    I know it is common perception that weather models could theoretically just keep improving slightly as more precise now-data is gathered, as though the weather pattern ten or fifteen days from now is somehow locked away in all those details. This may be so, or, we may be facing a situation where theoretical understanding must improve to provide a predictive framework (weather does x because of y, if the model does not know that and has no input of y, then how can it generate x?). I believe this is more or less self-evident at long enough time scales, I mean how would you imagine any computer-based weather model would generate a forecast for today's date in 2019 without some sort of theory to guide it?

    Having worked in this area for a long time, I only have the uncertainty to report, that somewhere between about seven to twenty days out is a barrier beyond which no computer model can go with great accuracy unless it has theoretical guidance added to the mix. I am not very sure where that boundary lies, it has to do with the length of time that certain energy cycles persist in the atmosphere. What makes a weather forecasting model accurate at all is its skill in detecting and forecasting rates of change in the simple downstream movement of existing energy patterns. Recent Hurricane Lane gave a clinic in how difficult that can be with solutions all over the map (literally). But get into a persistent blocking pattern or a fast westerly with organized systems and you can get the models to run 10-15 days without really going off the rails. At the moment, long-range forecasting is only based on pattern forecasting, few if any reliable LRF people even try to nail down specific details during those periods. I think it can be done theoretically if you solve in full the question of where energy for the atmosphere originates. Even among weather experts, there is little sympathy for the concept that the energy could originate outside the system, but that would be our only real hope of forming a theory, if the energy arises fully from within the system then it becomes something like predicting when a random stranger will walk past your house just having his address as a clue.

    (spoiler: the energy originates from the interaction of magnetic fields with our atmosphere ... the solutions will come ... perhaps within 10-20 years, more likely 30-50 ... and weather control is not as unthinkable as you might imagine if this is the case, although the technology would take decades to develop and the politics of implementing it would be a huge challenge. Not my problem unless other sharp minds are making unknown advances in health care for the aging.)