Sunday, April 14, 2013

European Weather Predictions Excel Because Of Reanalysis

In the 1980’s movie, "Back to the Future," the date that Doc and Marty travel to in the future was April 13, 2013. In the movie the future of the vision was flying cars and weather forecasting to the second. In real life political elections can change what a future may look like. In the decade of US, 2000-2008, of Republican control, they defunded the NASA "Super Skyway" that killed the flying cars idea and also defunded the investment of the US weather forecasting plan. It sounds like we should have the time machine to go back and change the outcome of the Bush-Gore 2000 election! The super close election propelled the country into a very different future. The political position that killed weather prediction funding is tied to the element Europe uses to make its weather system work so well, “reanalysis”.  Forecasters pretty much agree that the USA weather forecasting is way behind the European forecasting model. Europe decided that weather was worth investing in when USA didn't. 

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is an independent intergovernmental organization supported by 20 European Member States and 14 Co-operating States. The headquarters is in Reading, England, and has one of the largest supercomputer complexes in Europe that is linked by high-speed telecommunication lines to the computer systems of the national weather services of its supporting states. The Centre's computer system contains the world's largest archive of numerical weather prediction data. The information center accumulates all the data provided by the co-operating states and combines the information with reanalysis data. Together they are providing very accurate forecasts 15 day, 30 day and seasonal, annual forecasts. American television forecasters are checking their predictions against ECMWF whenever possible.

Understanding the reanalysis process is important. ECMWF makes significant contributions to support research on climate variability. ECMWF has pioneered an innovative approach known as reanalysis. Reanalysis is accumulated historical weather data to determine climactic changes that will affect present changes of weather. This becomes mathematical evidence of global climate change. This is why I believe there was a concern for the global climate change denying Oil Company backed Republicans who blocked the USA weather forecasting advancements.

The ECMWF combined satellite, super computer infrastructure and historic climactic trending to make great advancements in forecasting. You might say they were looking forward and backward. Maybe the saying could be said again, “When going forward never forget where you came from.” Still another thought could be when we are looking ahead for answers for innovation we can look for answers in previous findings. Thus giving us reason to reexamine the why, what and when that caused other innovations to fail.

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