2B.6 Broadband changes the relationship between numerical modeling, operational (including broadcast) meteorolgists and consumers

Monday, 1 August 2005: 11:30 AM
Ambassador Ballroom (Omni Shoreham Hotel Washington D.C.)
Elliot Abrams, AccuWeather Inc, State College, PA

When the first numerical models became operationally available, they opened new technological challenges and communications opportunities for the operational and broadcast meteorology communities. The steepness of learning curves depended on individuals and their capabilities and objectives.

While the researchers and others developing and improving models were (and are today) working at the frontiers of mathematics and physics, it was generally left to the operational / broadcast meteorologists to interpret model results on a daily basis, incorporate these results into forecasts, and disseminate / communicate the forecasts to end-users.

End users had no access to the models, and therefore no incentive to learn how to understand and interpret them. The vast meteorological middle: operational forecasters, broadcasters and consultants, had the technical skills to understand and interpret model output and subjective differences, then transform their work into myriad forecasts, broadcasts, applied studies and their interpretations. They were the gatekeepers of meteorology as far as virtually all users were concerned.

But no more. Automation (especially with the advent of Digital Forecast Databases) combined with universal dissemination (quick, easy access to all the models created domestically and internationally) has empowered far more members of the user community with the tools to make their own forecasts. 

The secret is out: the models incorporate such technical sophistication that individuals or working groups can no longer sift through the model overload and use their knowledge of atmospheric physics to reliably alter the output in real time. At the same time, interpretation and use of what is now available through broadband internet does not require the thorough grounding in atmospheric physics provided by today's B.S. level meteorological curricula.

For today's operational and broadcast meteorologists, one door may be closing, but perhaps a larger one is opening.


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