New Improvements to the ECMWF Forecasting Package for Summer 2018 (credit: European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting)
DISCUSSION: With ever-increasing processing power being made available by the world’s top scientific research supercomputers, forecasters and researchers alike are keen to stay on the cutting edge of forecasting accuracy and reliability. The European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) has recently announced that several new upgrades and improvements are being introduced in the latest release of the ECMWF Integrated Forecasting Package (IFS) cycle 45r1. The IFS uses a sophisticated four-dimensional data assimilation scheme (e.g., latitude-longitude-altitude-time) and is fed information from a combination of observational data and model outputs which leads to generate high-resolution forecasts. Forecasts within the IFS are further separated into two classes: a high resolution forecast and an ensemble-based forecast.
New meteorological content is being introduced in IFS cycle 45r1 that will potentially enhance forecasting skill and quality. One of the biggest improvements in this cycle is the introduction of a three-dimensional coupled ocean-atmosphere scheme with data obtained from the Nucleus of European Modeling of the Ocean (NEMO) dataset version 3.4. Because the ocean and atmosphere work consistently in tandem, coupling of the ocean-atmosphere interface is important when considering accurate simulations of future conditions. The existing NEMO-IFS scheme has also been upgraded to allow for a full ocean-atmosphere coupling in the tropics, with partial coupling in the extratropics.
Another significant improvement is with regards to the bathymetry model, which has been upgraded to use the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s ETOPO1 (1 arc-minute) locked topography-bathymetry dataset. This dataset is a significant improvement from the predecessor dataset in that many biases in estimated bathymetrical depth have been corrected for and many erroneous measurements have been addressed. The importance of this is that the wave model within the IFS can tap into this improved data and forecast accuracy of wave heights can be greatly improved as a result. The figures at the top of this article shows the adjustments to the bathymetry with ETOPO1 data compared to the predecessor dataset in both the high-resolution and ensemble wave models.
So what do these improvements mean for us? Recalling the spirit of a coupled ocean-atmosphere interface, many improvements to the upper air forecasts are expected. Understanding more about our upper-air dynamics will provide more clues on predictability of. Near-surface temperature and precipitation biases also receive an improvement on the predecessor cycle, especially in the tropical regions and over Europe. On the tropical cyclone front, intensity error has been decreased by as much as 10% over the first 5 days of a forecast and up to a 20% reduction in error beyond day 5. This is an important topic that is stressed upon global forecasters for hurricane intensity changes, especially since rapid intensification processes in tropical cyclones continue to be a challenge for forecasters and researchers alike.
While it is still currently in the open testing phase, these new upgrades are expected to be released in just a few days (June 5th, 2018). For a complete description on the new improvements, additions, and preliminary findings with the new IFS cycle besides those mentioned in this article, check out the ECMWF documentation here.
Image credit: European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting
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© 2018 Meteorologist Brian Matilla
A Comparison of Men and Women Weathercasters: Education, Positions, and Presence in Local TV (Credit: American Meteorological Society)
Discussion: A study recently published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society evaluated the presence, position, and education of women weathercasters in local TV. The purpose of the study was to “determine updated numbers that reflect whether women are gaining more positons and influence in local TV weather broadcasting compared to the past”. This was evaluated by examining if a correlation exists between how many female weathercasters hold meteorological degrees and are chief meteorologist. Finally, it examined if there was a correlation between having a meteorological degree and working in a larger market.
Altogether, the data were obtained between February 27 and October 20, 2016, and represented 2,040 weathercasters. Of that total, 1,444 were men and 596 were women. Local TV station personnel and websites across the U.S. provided the data for this study. Additionally, an up-to-date list of local network affiliates and regional cable channels from 210 U.S. markets was compiled via the website NewsBlues. From station websites, weathercaster biographies provided personal information including the level of education, whether or not that individual earned a degree, and their position at the station. Finally, personnel from each station provided more detailed, short biographies on news and weather team members to fill in any informational gaps.
Images 1 & 2. Data of weathercaster degrees from the recent study.
This study was one of the first to compare the number women and men weathercasters holding meteorology degrees. When polling the educational backgrounds, as seen in image 1, the majority of both male and female degrees were meteorology undergraduate degrees (778 men and 282 women). Interestingly enough, both male and female meteorology degrees were more common in smaller markets (seen in image 2). The next most common educational backgrounds included communication/journalism degrees, professional meteorology certificates such as the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association Seals of Approval for TV Weathercasting, meteorology master’s degrees, and other science degrees.
Images 3-5. Data of the four most common positions by gender from the recent study.
Image 6. Data of chief meteorologists from the recent study.
The four most common positions of weathercasting are evening, morning, weekend, and daytime. As seen in images 3 and 5, This study found that most women weathercasters, 44%, worked the least desired and least prestigious time slot, the weekend shift. The next 37% of women worked mornings. There is a huge imbalance in the male to female ratio of evening weathercasters. 45% of men weathercasters hold this prime-time shift (images 4 and 5) while only 14% of women weathercasters work evenings (image 3). This percentage was actually lower than a previous study in 2008 that found nearly a third of women weathercasters worked in the evening/prime-time shift. Similarly, out of all chief meteorologists, only 8% are female (image 6).
Overall, this study found that the total percentage of women weathercasters in local TV has increased. Even so, women are underrepresented in the field as they mainly work undesired weekend shifts. Much fewer women than men have meteorological degrees, hold evening positions, and hold high-ranking positions including chief meteorologist. Finally, it may be useful to explore additional contributing factors for to further comprehend the results of this study.
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© 2018 Weather Forecaster Amber Liggett
DISCUSSION: In light of a gradually warming planet, there is a globally increasing concern that there could be an issue related to gradually increasing tropical cyclone intensity. This is chiefly due to the fact that as the Earth continues to experience amplified net warming over time due to an increasingly more amplified greenhouse effect, this will consequently catalyze greater global oceanic warming. The reason for this is due to the fact that well over half (50%) of the world's heat is stored in the world's oceans. Therefore, with warmer ocean's, this results in a corresponding increase in the magnitude of warmer upper-ocean heat energy which is made available on a seasonal basis to developing tropical storms.
Therefore, one of the growing concerns is that (even with all other atmospheric factors being equal such as the Coriolis force which helps dictate at what latitudinal positions tropical storms can form at) with a gradually warming planet, there would be increasing amounts of low/mid-level water vapor present. Thus, with warmer oceans, there is an inherently greater threat for potentially stronger tropical cyclones in the coming years and decades to come. Hence, it will be interesting to see if atmospheric researchers eventually make a more conscious effort to look into whether it would be advantageous to establish a slightly different (possibly with an increased intensity category) hurricane intensity scale to compensate for these factors. For the time being, the global atmospheric science community is in fairly solid agreement that the current Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Intensity Scale will likely continue to be the way to go as it has worked for the global scientific and non-scientific communities alike up to this point.
To learn more about the article which inspired this article, click here!
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© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
DISCUSSION: “People generally want to know three things about any hurricane: when and where it will make landfall, and how bad will it be.” To be able to forecast and provide the public with all this information, it takes a lot of people, time, and effort to collect the data needed. This past hurricane season was ranked the fifth-most active season since records began in 1851, with 17 named storms. Regarding research during the last hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued seven rapid intensification forecasts, and of which, six were correct. Periods of rapid intensification indicate that the maximum sustained winds associated with a tropical cyclone have increased by at least 30 knots (35 mph), or above, within a 24-hour period. But what is it that makes the associated hurricane research so important?
The amount of information and research on just one single hurricane can be an overwhelming amount, making the amount of information on all hurricanes mind boggling. It is this information that is collected and referenced both during and after a given tropical storm. This allows the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as the National Hurricane Center to create models and forecasts for the public.
To understand how various hurricane research protects the public, you must understand the basics of a hurricane. Most hurricanes which form within the Tropical Atlantic basin develop within the Caribbean Sea and/or the North Atlantic Ocean. Often times, the most destructive tropical cyclones form off the coast of western Africa when thunderstorms travel westward and gradually develop an area of lower pressure near the center of the predominant convection. The localized change in minimum central pressure within the developing tropical storm catalyzes an increase in the inward rotation of the wind flow towards the center of the developing circulation.
While traveling across the warm waters over the course of what is most often several days, these storms can become very dangerous. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA can collect data on these hurricanes from a combination of both satellites and aircraft. They collect information about the rainfall rates, surface wind speeds, cloud heights, environmental temperature, ocean heat, and humidity. Each of these things effect how the storm is going to evolve and how it may ultimately end up impacting people living in given regions being threatened by said storm.
One of the instruments that is deployed from aircraft(s) that fly into hurricanes is referred to as a Dropsonde. According to NASA, a Dropsonde is an 11-inch long tube that is light and flimsy. It includes a parachute to slow it down and is ejected from one such un-manned aerial vehicle which is known as the Global Hawk. While it falls, it both measures and collects formation about vertical profiles of temperature, humidity, as well as both wind speed and direction. Upon collecting this critical information, the dropsonde immediately transmits the information back to a computer.
One of the most important measurements is the wind speed. This is due to the fact that upon a hurricane hitting land, the storm surge is a direct result of how the strong the winds are. Without being able to predict strong winds in advance, affected areas can’t prepare and evacuate accordingly. The storm surge flooding can often generate life-threatening situations when not forecasted properly. Back in the day when there was a major lack of geostationary satellites and aircraft to help forecast such events, hurricanes were a much greater threat to society due to the greater lack of a more accurate predictability factor.
As someone may infer, scientific research has made substantial progress in how we forecast hurricanes. However, it is crucial to continue researching/learning more about hurricanes.
(Citied: NASA, National Weather Service, NOAA, Hurricane Hunters Association)
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© 2018 Weather Forecaster Allison Finch
DISCUSSION: As the research world wraps up neat global atmospheric events from throughout the course of 2017, one of the more interesting subjects to review is the importance of atmospheric blocking events. There is no debate that atmospheric blocking events have a profound impact on the larger-scale atmospheric flow regimes which evolve both on the synoptic-scale (i.e., spatial coverage on the order of thousands of kilometers) and the planetary scale (i.e., a spatial coverage on the order of hundreds of thousands of kilometers). Therefore, both direct and indirect impacts of atmospheric blocking events can often have incredibly far-ranging impacts on regional as well as continental weather events (and trends thereof). Attached above is a neat discussion (courtesy of Dr. Anthony Lupo of the University of Missouri) which helps to break down the duration of 2017 in the context of atmospheric blocking events and corresponding issues therein.
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© 2018 Meteorologist Anthony Lupo
Matt Bolton (my intern graduate and now professional colleague) and I have been discussing, for years, public understanding of weather. The discussion grew out of our hurricane and other research efforts, pre-college-level weather camp programs, and interactions with social scientists at professional weather conferences…Toward this end, Matt has just posted a survey (Fig. 1) to further his research…To read the full story, click here - http://www.weatherworks.com/lifelong-learning-blog/?p=1438
© 2017 H. Michael Mogil
DISCUSSION: Carbon dioxide levels hit a global record high in 2016, according to a study published by the World Meteorological Organization in the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. Concentrations of the greenhouse gas reached 403.3 parts per million (ppm) in 2016, resulting in an increase from 400.0 ppm the prior year. Since the Industrial Revolution began around 1750, carbon dioxide concentrations have risen 145%. The study notes that “the last time concentrations were this high was at least 3 million years ago.”
It was concluded that the concentration of carbon dioxide was so high because of a combination of human activity and a particularly strong El Niño event. Although carbon dioxide emissions did slow in 2016, the El Niño event made droughts more intense and restricted vegetation from absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Temperatures will continue to climb by the end of the century without rapids cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.
The study can be found here.
For information on other ongoing research and other meteorological processes visit the Global Weather and Climate Center.
©2017 Meteorologist Nicholas Quaglieri
CASPER - Coupled Air Sea Processes and Electromagnetic ducting Research (Credit: Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey)
DISCUSSION: CASPER the Coupled Air Sea Processes and Electromagnetic ducting Research is a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) sponsored by the U.S. Office of Research and the Department of Defense. The principle investigator of CASPER is Professor Qing Wang from Monterey’s Naval Postgraduate School (NPS).
According to NPS the research objective of CASPER is to “fully characterize the Marine Atmospheric Boundary Layer (MABL) as it’s related to electromagnetic wave propagation (EM) in coastal environments.” CASPER goes on to provide details on the blending altitude sampling concept which will allow researchers to obtain critical information on, “upper ocean, surface layer, boundary layer mean profiles and boundary layer turbulence.”
Research conducted allowed students to deploy a Sensor Hosting Autonomous Remote Craft (SHARC) off the coast of California to investigate these processes. Data collected could prove to be invaluable as the US Navy wishes to further strengthen their understanding of atmospheric effects on EM.
Processes such as boundary layer mean profiles and boundary layer turbulence assist researchers like meteorologists to investigate the air layers near the surface which may be affected by the diurnal heat cycle, moisture and momentum transfers.
For information on other ongoing research and other meteorological processes visit the Global Weather and Climate Center.
©2017 Meteorologist Jessica Olsen
“Research Plan Overview.” CASPER: Overview, met.nps.edu/~qwang/casper/research/overview.php.
DISCUSSION: Attached above is a neat follow-up article to the earlier discussion (courtesy of Meteorologist Anthony Lupo from the University of Missouri) on research pertaining to atmospheric blocking events. This is a very interesting article which will give you powerful insights into the statistics surrounding global blocking events and characteristics thereof. Be sure to open the document attached above to learn more about the year of 2016 from the perspective of global atmospheric blocking events.
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©2017 Meteorologist Anthony Lupo
Insight into the Research On a Snowfall Measurement Product! (credit: Meteorologist Sheldon Kusselson)
DISCUSSION: In light of the very recently concluded winter storm which impacted many parts of the north-central United States, here is a neat piece of research work which conducted by Meteorologist Sheldon Kusselson and others which collaborated with him. Note that this product is produced by microwave sensors onboard polar orbiting satellites that sense snow in the cloud at an average resolution of 25kms and then converts to a snow-water equivalent. Many meteorologists benefit from this particular product on a relatively consistent basis during forecasts concerning winter storms.
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©2016 Meteorologist Sheldon Kusselson
DISCUSSION: Ever wonder Hurricane Sandy (October 2012) and many other events around the world unfolded in the way in which they did? Many of these events occurred in the vicinity of middle-to-upper atmospheric phenomena known as atmospheric blocking events. There is a lot of debate about what they are and Dr. Anthony Lupo (Professor at the University of Missouri) helps to break it all down in the article attached below!
To learn more about other interesting current research work being down both within and beyond the scope of the GWCC community, be sure to click here!