Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Optimized arctic observations for improving weather forecast in the northern sea route


The current reduction in Arctic sea-ice extent causes unpredictable weather phenomena in the Arctic Ocean (strong winds, high waves, and rapid sea-ice movement associated with cyclones) also over the mid-latitudes (heat waves, severe winters, etc.). With such changing background conditions, more accurate weather forecasts are needed to safely navigate along the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and to understand the climatic linkage between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes. However, this is difficult because of the sparse number of atmospheric observations across the Arctic Ocean. As it is highly difficult to make additional observations in Arctic regions because of limited logistical support, a cost-benefit optimized Arctic observing network is required for improving polar predictions.

In September 2013, Dr. Jun Inoue from the National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR), Japan, and his international research team conducted joint Arctic atmospheric observations using radiosondes (instruments carried into the atmosphere by weather balloons, which measure various atmospheric parameters:Figure 1) on the research vessel Mirai and at meteorological stations surrounding the Arctic Ocean (Ny-Alesund, Alert, and Eureka).

Figure 1. Radiosonde observations from RV Mirai over the ice-free Arctic Ocean.

Credit: Jun Inoue

The team launched radiosondes eight times a day from RV Mirai (operated by NIPR and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)), six times a day from Ny-Alesund (operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute), and four times a day from Alert and Eureka (operated by Environment Canada). Their high daily observing frequency improved the accuracy of atmospheric data used to estimate the state of the climate and weather forecasts because much of the observed data were incorporated into the initial conditions of the weather simulations in real time.

To investigate the impact of these special observations on the weather forecasts over the Arctic, the research team focused on a high-pressure system along the NSR on September 20, 2013 that caused strong coastal winds and rapid wind-driven sea-ice drift over the NSR. They incorporated multiple observations into the initial conditions of the weather simulations, including these special data and conducted ensemble forecasting experiments with an atmospheric general circulation model.

The influence of the special observational data on the predictability of the high-pressure system was then tested using the different initial fields by excluding these special data from each station separately. It was found that the uncertainty in the modeled wind fields associated with the high-pressure system was reduced when all the radiosonde data was included.

In particular, the data from Ny-Alesund and RV Mirai were very important for predicting this event, partly because of the flow-dependent characteristics in the upper atmosphere. Based on several sets of sensitivity tests, they also determined that four launches per day, once every six hours, is the most cost-effective observing frequency.

Predicted surface wind fields are usually used in sea-ice forecast models as forcing data; therefore, the growth of errors in sea-ice forecasts heavily depends on the accuracy of the predicted wind fields. The research team ran an ice-ocean-coupled model to understand the impact of the accuracy of the predicted wind fields on sea-ice forecasts. It was found that sea-ice forecasts initialized by wind fields that included the special observations adequately predicted the rapid wind-driven sea-ice advection along the NSR.

The research team concluded that additional atmospheric observations would effectively predict not only severe weather phenomena over the Arctic Ocean but also sea-ice distribution influenced by atmospheric forcing. During the Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP), from mid-2017 to mid-2019, proposed by the World Weather Research Programme -- Polar Prediction Project (WWRP -- PPP), these types of observations and modeling activities will be accelerated within the international framework and could contribute to establishing a sustainable Arctic observing network.



National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR), Research Organization of Information and Systems Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)

Media Contact

Hiromi Obama

Hiromi Obama | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First results of NSTX-U research operations
26.10.2016 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

3-D-printed structures shrink when heated

26.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow

26.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

First results of NSTX-U research operations

26.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>