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Advancement of Weather Forecasting Research Paper

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Research Paper on Advancement of Weather Forecasting

Over the course of history, weather forecasting methods have greatly advanced both in terms of their accuracy and reliability. The development of new scientific observational methods and numerical models has also increased the general public perception of weather forecasting. In the past, the general perception and assumption regarding weather forecasts was that they would, more often than not, be wrong. There has been a significant improvement in terms of accuracy compared to 20 years ago. For instance, a 3 day atmospheric pressure forecast in the present day is as accurate as a one day forecast 2 decades ago. The dependability of a weather forecast is indicated by how accurate a long term forecast is. One day forecasts have been possible for a long time, however, advancements in scientific methods have made forecasts of as long as a week to be accurately determined. This paper outlines how these scientific advancements in weather forecasting have been achieved and developed.

A scientific approach to weather forecasting is highly dependent upon how well the atmosphere and its interactions with the various aspects of the earth surface is understood. Weather forecasting is mainly composed of five main stages of operations. These are namely; data collection through observation, assimilation of the data, understanding the processes and then prediction which is accompanied by the dissemination of the predictions to the public or relevant parties (Lynch, 2008). Each of these scientific stages of weather forecasting has undergone several advancements over the years. All of these advancements have been mainly geared towards increased accuracy and dependability of the projections. Advancements in weather forecasting in the various stages have resulted in millions of lives being saved from various disasters. The following sections indicate the advancements in the five components listed above.

The first aspect of the advancements is in the collection and assimilation of weather data. There are several more efficient and time-sensitive data collection methods that have been invented. Among the earliest scientific observational methods were the radar and satellite stations. However, the even though numerous amounts of data were collected, it was only until computer-generated data predictions were produced that the real advancements were noticed. For example, the invention of the Numerical Weather Prediction, NWP, data generating model made it much easier to use information from past information and then then assimilate it with current data for a much more comprehensive prediction (Lynch, 2006). Estimates of the state of the atmosphere could easily be made using partial observations made in different time periods. However, the greatest challenge in observation is that some areas are still poorly and not frequently observed and this compromises prediction accuracy.

The understanding of the atmosphere and the atmospheric processes is also another aspect of scientific weather forecasting that has undergone notable advancements. The great challenge that has had to be overcome in innovation is the erratic nature of atmospheric processes. This non-linear aspect of physical atmospheric processes has led to the invention of computer technologies which can make improved approximations based on the erratic trends. Even though some patterns are unstable and can thus not be accurately be predicted, the more stable patterns have been effectively predicted to the greatest accuracies. Taking the example of convective atmospheric movements such as thunderstorms, predictions have been improved to the accuracy of hours. However, other larger atmospheric motions that are more erratic have only managed to be predictable to the accuracy of two or more weeks. These predictive advancements have enabled the prediction of storms which has led to the evacuation of people and saving of people’s lives.

The final aspect of weather forecasting advancements has been the various ways, media or channels through which predictions or forecasts are communicated. The first weather prediction advancement is referred to as now-casting. This has greatly improved as small-scale hazardous weather conditions such as hurricanes can be predicted in values that extend beyond 24 hours. The second advancement in weather prediction is the numerical weather prediction. The NWP weather models are now able to present a three-dimensional weather grid that extends over an area of about 100 km (Kalnay, 2003). These limited area forecasts can give information about cloud and fog conditions in specific areas. Since the greatest challenge to weather forecasting has been the erratic and chaotic nature of weather patterns, a new approach of prediction known as ensemble prediction has been invented. This is whereby a group of forecasts are made and inferred from differing initial conditions. The probabilities are then drawn from the approximations and averages made.

In conclusion, it is clearly evident that great advancements have been made in the area of scientific weather forecast. Advancements in the computing technology and telecommunication have also improved the way this forecast information is broadcast to the public. The various data collection and assimilation techniques have also been greatly advanced. However, the greatest challenges continue to be the erratic and uncertain behavior of the environment. Such fluctuations continue to make the short-term weather forecasts difficult to master. However, the current technologies are accurate in long term predictions of climatic changes over the course of many years or in the scale of centuries.

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