Topic 2a (part 1) - Weather prediction - overview
Welcome to Week 2 of the course where we will explore ‘Oceans, Weather and Climate Impacts’. What happens in the ocean has a fundamental impact on the weather conditions we experience on land. In our first video of the week we look at how satellite data and other observations are assimilated into numerical models used in weather forecasting.
Predicting the weather through satellite data works in two ways: Expert forecasters interpret the images retrieved from the satellites, and numerical weather-prediction models assimilate the observations.
Most satellite observations go directly into numerical weather-prediction models. The quality of data going into weather forecasting models and the computer models themselves, have improved drastically over the years.
The data used for these models include vertical distribution of temperature and humidity, cloud distributions, land and sea surface temperature, location of volcanic ash, and wind speeds directions.
The next evolution for weather forecasting models is to incorporate and work more with probabilities of where a storm might go. Knowing far in advance that a storm is coming, and being able to prepare (by e.g. locking down transport systems and moving people away from the area) really helps reduce the risk to people and their infrastructure.
Please note that at 3:02 of the video Dr Mark Higgins accidentally says 800 metres, the correct distance is 800 kilometres away. We apologise for any confusion this may have caused.
- Dr Mark Higgins
Optional further reading
- Satellite Data Assimilation in Numerical Weather Prediction: An Overview A scientific article by the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts
Explore the data
View featured satellites on the satellite tracking app
To download the video above please click the ‘Download video’ button located on the top-right.
You can download the video transcript pdf below onto your computer by opening the document, right-clicking and selecting the save option.
View featured imagery, animations and external links below
Sea Surface Temperature for the North Atlantic Ocean for 18 July 2016
Provided by Mark Higgins/EUMETSAT
SARAL Altika and Jason-2 altimeter significant wave heights over North Atlantic 9 Dec 2014.
8-hour forecast showing mean sea level pressure (solid lines) in millibars (mb), 1000-500 mb thickness (a measure of temperature of a layer) in decameters (red and blue dotted lines), and six-hour total precipitation in inches (colored contours using scale on left). The forecast was valid May 24, 2007.