Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Weather forecasts misleading due to atmospheric fluctuations?

22.03.2004


Scientists at Oxford University have discovered that small-scale fluctuations, which are wide-spread in the atmosphere, may have a greater impact on weather systems than previously thought. The results, published in Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics, may have important implications for accurate weather forecasting.



The fluctuations, known as inertia-gravity waves because they are sustained by a combination of inertial and gravitational forces, are prominent in the bottom 15 km of the atmosphere.

They can often be seen from the surface of the Earth as ’stripy’ features in clouds. Their horizontal wavelengths can be as short as 5 km – too small to be picked up by current weather prediction models, which divide the surface of the Earth into grid-boxes measuring around 50 km by 50 km.


Meteorologists have therefore always had to assume that inertia-gravity waves do not significantly interact with weather systems, such as warm and cold fronts, but this assumption had never been rigorously tested.

Motivated by the results of laboratory experiments, which seemed to challenge the meteorologists’ assumption, the Oxford scientists developed a computer model of a simple fluid system resembling the atmosphere. They represented the inertia-gravity waves as random noise in the model, since the fluctuations can be highly irregular, chaotic and transient. They found that the system could behave differently when the inertia-gravity wave representation was activated – in other words, the meteorologists’ assumptions were not always justified.

In particular, the state of the fluid could undergo spontaneous transitions to quite different states, with a dramatic shift in the patterns of low and high pressure. Extrapolation of these results to the real atmosphere suggests that inertia-gravity waves could be a cause of significant errors in weather forecasts. The surprise implication of the research is that adding random noise to the forecast might actually help improve things.

Dr Paul Williams, one of the scientists involved in the study, said: ’It seems that we have observed a phenomenon which might have the potential to affect the accuracy of weather forecasts. More research is needed to find out exactly how bad the forecast error might be, but the preliminary results are very exciting. It sounds bizarre to suggest that adding random noise to a forecast might help to improve it, but science is always full of surprises!’

Barbara Hott | alfa
Further information:
http://www.copernicus.org/EGU/npg/11/contents1.htm

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Arctic melt ponds form when meltwater clogs ice pores
24.01.2017 | University of Utah

nachricht New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland
19.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>