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.

Featured Educators:

  • Dr Mark Higgins

Explore the data

EUMETSAT Oceans MOOC Data Viewer

View featured satellites on the satellite tracking app

Don’t forget you can download the video and transcript with the links on the right.


Sea Surface Temperature Analysis

Global sea surface temperature and sea ice analysis from OSTIA, based on satellite observations

North Atlantic Ocean SST

Sea Surface Temperature for the North Atlantic Ocean for 18 July 2016

Typhoon Rammasun

Metop-B image of Typhoon Rammasun by the Philippines on 15 July 2014, 01:00 UTC.
This image is a Natural Colour RGB with ASCAT winds overlay.

Wave Heights Over the North Atlantic

SARAL Altika and Jason-2 altimeter significant wave heights over North Atlantic 9 Dec 2014.

8-hour forecast from NCEP’s North American Mesoscale (NAM) model

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.

Weather Forecast

Winds aloft measured by satellites are crucial for good forecasts. Satellite data is used to initialize numerical weather models world wide. Especially over oceans. This image from CIMMS shows upper winds around TS Arlene on Wed. 29 June,2011.