2.5 “Waves to Weather”: A New Interdisciplinary Platform for Basic Research in the Area of Predictability, Atmospheric Dynamics, and Clouds

Wednesday, 25 January 2017: 11:45 AM
Conference Center: Skagit 5 (Washington State Convention Center )
Andreas H. Fink, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany; and P. Knippertz, G. C. Craig, V. Wirth, M. Riemer, and P. Spichtinger

Our ability to predict the weather up to a week or more ahead saves our societies billions of dollars annually and protects human life and property. Exponentially increasing computing power and new observations have led to continuous improvements in forecast quality over many years, but nonetheless forecasts are sometimes strikingly poor. Increasing evidence suggests that this is not merely due to defects in our forecasting methods – in a chaotic atmosphere, some weather situations are intrinsically hard to predict. The great challenge today is to identify the limits of predictability in different situations and produce the best forecasts that are physically possible.

To meet this challenge and to deliver the underpinning science needed to pave the way towards a new generation of weather forecasting systems, the Germany Research Foundation (DFG) funds the new research platform “Waves to Weather” (W2W). W2W addresses three of the most important causes of remaining uncertainties in weather prediction in a concerted effort: (A) the quick upscale growth of forecast errors from insufficiently resolved or represented processes like convection or boundary layer mixing, which modify synoptic-scale waves, (B) our limited understanding of processes in clouds, and (C) the influence of local factors on weather that influence the predictability associated with larger-scale wave disturbances. W2W involves contributions from the disciplines of atmospheric dynamics, cloud physics, statistics, inverse methods, and visualization.

W2W uses and develops a broad range of tools, including numerical models with detailed treatment of cloud processes and aerosols, and ensemble forecasts with sophisticated statistical post-processing to describe uncertainty. Improved insight will be gained through the development of new interactive visualization methods, which will enable rapid exploration of forecast ensembles to identify the sources and evolution of uncertainty in meteorologically significant features. At the conference, some first results from the consortium will be present to illustrate the general approach W2W is taking. A focus will be put on the prediction of extreme local weather events (e.g. mid-latitude heat waves and winter storms, Atlantic and Mediterranean subtropical cyclones, and monsoon rainfall in West Africa), which links W2W to the High Impact Weather (HIWeather) project by the World Meteorological Organization.

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