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Predicting The Weather


Predicting The Weather
The weather affects us all, every day. From governing the difference between life and death, to providing a conversation topic to fill awkward silences at a party, it is an ever-present and ever-changing part of life. This means that predicting it accurately is a hugely important task.

In the UK, the Met Office is responsible for weather monitoring and prediction. Before a forecast can be put together, measurements from thousands of data recorders across the world are collected and analysed. Every day, around 500,000 observations are received, including atmospheric measurements from land and sea, satellites, weather balloons and aircraft. But, this is still not enough to represent the weather in every location.
To fill in the gaps, the data is assimilated. This combines current data with what is expected, to provide the best estimate of the atmospheric conditions. To produce an accurate forecast, the data has to be fed into a supercomputer that creates a numerical model of the atmosphere. The process involves many complex equations, and the Met Office’s IBM supercomputer can do more than 1,000 trillion calculations a second, running an atmospheric model with a million lines of code.
Forecasters can use this data and techniques such as nowcasting – using estimates of current weather speed and direction – to predict the weather in the hours ahead. For longer range forecasts, further computer models are relied upon.

Predicting The Weather