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December - January 2008

Weather forecast goes global

Regional weather forecasting models focus on targeted areas, from river basins to continents, at resolutions high enough to depict individual storms and other fine-scale features. Weather doesn’t stop at the edge of a model’s domain, however. The artificial boundaries between regions can create forecasting problems.

This animation (see “On the Web” for a link to the live version) illustrates one approach to solving the artificial boundary problem: targeting the entire planet instead of just one region. NCAR researchers are testing the ability of a regional weather model (the advanced research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting model) to stretch to the global scale.

The 10-day forecast shown in the animation starts with observed conditions on July 12, 2007, at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The fine-scale details in emerging fronts and storms are visible as water vapor circulates in the atmosphere. Several tropical depressions on either side of the Pacific Ocean grow into full-fledged tropical cyclones. The model captures, for example, the passage of Supertyphoon Man-Yi as it rolls over Japan’s southern islands and sweeps north.

Calculating the evolution of temperature, humidity, pressure, and other key data on a three-dimensional grid requires considerable computing power. This experiment used data points about 30 miles (50 kilometers) apart, a resolution typical of the global weather prediction models used by operational forecasters. Test forecasting at 12 mi (20 km) is under way, and the team plans experimental global runs at even higher resolution.

forecast visual

On the Web

See the animated version of this visual


In this issue...

2007 Outstanding Accomplishment Awards

NCAR pioneer Will Kellogg, 1917–2007

Random Profile: Emily Laidlaw

COMET writer wins AAAS science journalism award

Weather forecast goes global

New director for UCAR Child Care Center

Delphi Question

Holiday greetings!

Just One Look


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