By Ashar ALi Khan
September 1, 2022
UPDATED 12:00 PM EST
Prediction of Weather by Data
[Photo Credit: td.org]
Humans have an inquisitive nature. From the discovery of the method to start a fire to the recent James Webb telescope’s images, it has always been the curiosity that has driven humankind all along. There’s a reason that fortune tellers have featured in many cultures around the world. Prediction of weather, while similar to this in many ways, has always been given its due importance all these years due to its utility.
The history of weather forecasting dates as back as around 650 B.C. when Babylonians took the help of cloud appearance to predict short-term weather changes. It was much later, however, in 1643 to be precise, that Italian Physicist Evangelista Torricelli invented the Barometer which changed the world of weather prediction once and for all. Barometer - an instrument used to measure Atmospheric pressure - has been used to predict short-term weather changes for almost 400 years now.
Now while this short-term forecasting method can help in making decisions like whether or not to go out for a coffee on that particular day, it falls flat on its face when it comes to broad applications with high stakes. Farmers, for example, need to know the weather months before in order to make decisions like the type of crop they're going to grow and whether or not are they going to irrigate it. This is where Numerical Weather Prediction Models come in.
Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models work by solving a set of mathematical equations which have their origins in the mechanism of air movement and heat and moisture exchange in the atmosphere. National Weather Service’s Global Forecast System and European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF) are the two most commonly used NWP models in the world today.
ECMWF is generally regarded as the more accurate of the two, and the results of these models may differ slightly due to the different mathematical approximations involved. As the NWP model is just a computer model working on the input that is fed into it, the initial observations or ‘conditions’ need to be accurate in order to get accurate predictions from the model. The working of the model is pretty simple: the data of a particular place that is provided to the model can influence and shape the weather of some other place after a particular time since weather ‘moves’. This means weather data scientists require lots of worldwide data and globalization has done just that for them in recent years.
- “ What is the best weather forecast model?” wxguys.ssec.wisc.edu - The Weather Guys, 04 March 2014,
- “ Weather Forecasting Through The Ages” earthobservatory.nasa.gov - Articles, Features, 25 Feb 2002,
- “ Explainer: computer weather models” media.gov.au - Social, Blog, 29 March 2019, https://media.bom.gov.au/social/%20blog/2102/explainer-computer-weather-models/