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Math, Science, Computers Spur 'Extreme Weather Forecasting' 'Revolution'

Image: Math, Science, Computers Spur 'Extreme Weather Forecasting' 'Revolution'
(AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 04 Jul 2017 07:24 PM

A "quiet revolution" in meteorology is underway to predict major weather events a year, even decades ahead of time — combining science, math and computers, an Australian news outlet reported.

If successful, "extreme weather forecasting" could even save lives, news.com.au reported.

Currently, weather forecasts of any detail stretch out to about a month; after 28 days, only weather trends are predicted, the outlet noted.

"If anyone says right now that there will be a big El Nino in 2022, I wouldn't trust them. But at the moment we're doing the research to see if that might be possible," Peter May, head of research at the Bureau of Meteorology, told news.com.au.

At an Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute event at Brisbane's Queensland University of Technology on Monday, May spoke about the efforts to perfect medium to long range weather forecasts, the outlet reported.

"Our forecasts, seven days out are now more accurate than three-day forecasts were 15 years ago," he said, the outlet reported. "To me, that's staggering and that been done through massive international collaboration."

May conceded the "basic idea" of forecasting "hasn't changed in 100 years."

"But our ability to do it has changed enormously with increasing amounts of data — from weather balloons, commercial aircraft as they fly along, satellite measurements, how fast cloud moves, how much the earth glows infra-red, radio waves the earth emits, and that has allowed us to create higher resolution and finer scale models," he said.

He added meteorologists are increasingly using "ensemble forecasting" – a range of possible weather outcomes is plotted so you know what's most likely — but can prepare for the worst.

"We're making use of big data, four petabytes that's as much as eight million laptops and we need the equivalent of 20,000 laptops joined up to generate that data," he said, the outlet reported

To test the new style forecast's accuracy, May's team are first seeing if it could have predicted major weather events over the past century.

"If the model world behaves similar to what we've actually observed then that give us confidence in our projections for future," he said.

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A "quiet revolution" in meteorology is underway to predict major weather events a year, even decades ahead of time — combining science, math and computers, an Australian news outlet reported.
meteorology, advances, math, science, computers
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2017-24-04
Tuesday, 04 Jul 2017 07:24 PM
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