Weather Technology

Weather and Technology

Weather forecasting is the application of current technology and science to predict the state of the atmosphere for a future time and a given location. Weather forecasts are made by collecting as much data as possible about the current state of the atmosphere such as the temperature, humidity, and the wind, and using an understanding of atmospheric processes to determine how the atmosphere evolves in the future. However, the chaotic nature of the atmosphere and incomplete understanding of the processes mean that forecasts become less accurate as the range of the forecast increases.

Traditional observations made at the surface of atmospheric pressure, temperature, wind speed, wind direction, humidity, precipitation are collected routinely from trained observers, automatic weather stations or buoys. During the data assimilation process, information gained from the observations is used in conjunction with a numerical model’s most recent forecast for the time that observations were made to produce the meteorological analysis. Numerical weather prediction models are computer simulations of the atmosphere. They take the analysis as the starting point and evolve the state of the atmosphere forward in time using an understanding of physics and fluid dynamics. The complicated equations which govern how the state of fluid changes with time require supercomputers to solve them.

Modern technology, particularly computers and weather satellites, and the availability of data provided by coordinated meteorological observing networks, has resulted in enormous improvements in the accuracy of weather forecasting. Satellites, in particular, have given forecasters routine access to observations and data from remote areas of the globe; pictures of the Earth and its cloud were taken and interpreted. Over the past 40 years, satellite sensor technology has advanced enormously. In addition to providing visual images, satellites can also provide data that allow calculation of atmospheric temperature and moisture profiles and other environmental variables.